Tecumseh teacher sues district, superintendent after altercation with student

Tecumseh Middle School teacher Ed Lyons has filed a lawsuit against Tecumseh Local Schools and Superintendent Paula Crew, claiming the district infringed upon his right to freedom of speech.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Lyons describes a Nov. 5, 2021, altercation between himself and a student in his class, during which the 13-year-old attempted to go to the restroom without first asking permission. The incident, which turned physical, was recorded by another student on a school-issued laptop and later viewed by school administrators.

That evening, Lyons, a Huber Heights city councilman, was served a letter at his home, informing him the district had placed him on administrative leave, effective immediately. An investigation into the altercation resulted in disciplinary charges against Lyons.

In an email to this newspaper on Tuesday, Crew said she and the district had not yet been officially notified of the lawsuit.

“Tecumseh Local Schools has not been served with notice of this lawsuit, thus we do not have detailed knowledge of the information yet,” she wrote.

In the notice of disciplinary charges, Crew said the altercation was initiated when the student “did not say ‘please’ when asking to use the restroom,” and asserted Lyons had put his arm around the student’s neck. The lawsuit refutes both of the claims and maintains that the student was the aggressor, pushing Lyons against the wall and threatening to hit him.

At his pre-disciplinary hearing, the suit states Lyons was given an ultimatum to sign a “last chance” agreement or be terminated. Though Lyons refused, he remains employed by the district but was given a five-day unpaid suspension.

Through his labor union, Lyons submitted a grievance challenging the disciplinary action. A third-party arbitrator found the district did not have “just cause” for the suspension and mitigated the discipline to a three-day paid suspension.

The lawsuit claims media coverage of the incident has damaged Lyons’ reputation in the community, causing him “significant emotional distress” and resulting in the need to seek private legal counsel and incur associated attorney fees.

The lawsuit further claims the actions of Crew in response to the 2021 altercation are retaliation for comments Lyons made at a board of education meeting 21 months earlier, during which he spoke critically of the board.

Lyons had attended the February 2020 meeting to express concern about what he called a trend in “students acting out toward teachers and administrators.” He said the district had failed to implement adequate disciplinary measures.

Lyons is seeking compensatory and punitive damages; an order compelling the district to remove the disciplinary charges notice from his personnel file; pre- and post-judgment interest; and related attorney fees and court costs.

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