Parents say kids were locked in school closet

February 1, 2011 4:03:10 PM PST
Two Fayetteville parents have filed separate lawsuits saying their elementary school children were punished by being locked in a janitor's closet known as "The Dungeon."

The Fayetteville Observer reports Joan Williams and Charlene Covington both seek damages of more than $20,000, saying their children were locked in the closet during the 2009-2010 school year. The mother's say their children suffered emotional distress.

The lawsuits say their children and another kindergartner at Alma Easom Primary School, on Westlawn Avenue not far from downtown Fayetteville, were punished for acting up in class by being locked in a janitor's closet.

The suits allege janitor James Lee was given control of students who were misbehaving.

The parents claim Lee locked their children up in "The Dungeon," as referred to by the children. The suit says it had a padlock on the outside and anyone inside of the closet would be locked in.

The school system's attorney, David Phillips, says the complaint was investigated last year when it was brought to his attention.

In a statement Philips says, "This simply did not occur and we will be vigorously defending ourselves from such claims."

The school's attorney says the janitor resigned from Cumberland County Schools in August for reason unrelated to the lawsuits.

Meanwhile, most parents said Tuesday morning that Alma Easom is a wonderful school and they're not ready to pass judgment until the case goes to court.

"Oh, there's two sides to every story and only thing I know is what I read in the paper today," grandparent Margaret Hedgecoe said. "I don't know the other side of the story."

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