PRATTVILLE—Six parents are suing the Autauga County Board of Education, Superintendent Larry Butler and a former substitute teacher for damages in a case where the teacher pleaded guilty to sexual abuse.
The civil suit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court is the second to grow out of the criminal case against former substitute teacher Terry Wright of Prattville. The family of two elementary school students also sued the Board of Education, Butler and Wright in March 2005 in the Autauga County Circuit Court.
Wright, 54, pleaded guilty to seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse in April and is awaiting sentencing. The incidents occurred at Prattville Elementary School in October 2004.
“The Board of Education had knowledge Mr. Wright had abused or sexually abused (students) two weeks prior to October 29, 2004,” said Michael Crow, attorney for the victims’ families. “They failed to take steps to prevent Mr. Wright from committing a similar act (against my clients).”
Wright’s behavior was questioned a week before the incident at the elementary school, according to the complaint. While he was substituting at Prattville Intermediate School, students approached administrative staff saying Wright made them uncomfortable.
Angel Garrett, principal at Prattville Intermediate School, and central office staff did not report Wright to the police or investigate the alleged incident further, according to court records, according to the parents’ suit.
Wright’s name was taken off the substitute list, but an outdated list was used the following week when an elementary school teacher became ill in the middle of the day. Wright, the last person on the list, was called.
Since then, the district has developed a new method of handling substitute lists. If a new list is created, principals must pick up the lists and sign for them at the central office.
Butler would not comment on the case.
The court date is set for April 2007, but Crow said he is open to settling the suit out of court.
“Any time you have minors involved, you don’t want to put them through a trial where they have to get up and the stand and tell what was done to them,” he said.