State News

Fayetteville parents say children were locked in school closet

Posted February 1, 2011 7:45 a.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2011 6:42 p.m. EST

— 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."

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 lawsuits say their children and another kindergartner at Alma Easom Primary School in Fayetteville were punished for acting up in class by being locked in a janitor's closet.

Both parents declined to comment to WRAL News.

"These mothers are simply providing a voice for their children. They are simply trying to get recourse for children that are being ignored, whose stories are being swept under the rug by the school," said attorney Laura Conner, who is representing both families.

Cumberland County Schools lawyer David Phillips says he can't comment about the case, but the school system has investigated the allegations.

"Cumberland County Schools has not been served with the lawsuits, and therefore, we cannot comment on them. We do not generally comment on pending litigation for legal reasons. However, we are aware of the parental concerns leading to the lawsuits," the school system said in a statement issued to WRAL News on Tuesday.

"We are aware that the lawsuit claims that students were locked in a janitor’s closet or other room. Based on our investigation, this simply did not occur, and we will be vigorously defending ourselves from such claims. The custodian involved resigned from Cumberland County Schools on Aug. 6, 2010 for reasons unrelated to the lawsuit."