GCCC teacher, XHS football coach accused of abusing student


XENIA — A civil lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio accuses a Greene County Career Center teacher of abusive behavior toward a Greene County Career Center student with cerebral palsy.

Maurice Harden, who is also the head football coach at Xenia High School, was named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with the GCCC board of education and Superintendent David Deskins.

According to the lawsuit, Harden — who teaches exercise science — allegedly pushed the student’s table into his stomach, pinned him in his chair, and then physically grabbed the student by the shoulders and pushed him out of his chair, onto the floor.

Harden then allegedly stood over the student, restraining him from moving, while verbally assaulting, humiliating and intimidating him. It is also alleged that Harden specifically screamed in part “you got people calling here, looking for your little crazy ass,” which is captured on a recording while the student is lying on his back.

The lawsuit also refers to other alleged incidents where Harden is accused of bending the 17-year-old student’s fingers backward, throwing his book bag, and pushing him from his chair to the ground between 10-15 times during the first semester.

The defendants are being accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other counts.

Harden was assigned to work from home during the investigation and allowed to return to the career center on Jan. 16 until the court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting him from being on school property. He is again assigned to work from home, according to a statement from GCCC.

“In mid-December, when we learned for the first time of claims involving teacher Maurice Harden, we took the situation seriously and acted swiftly to thoroughly investigate what took place,” the GCCC board of education said. “We also immediately reported this matter to local law enforcement and children’s services. No criminal charges or investigations were pursued by either agency.”

The board also said that the allegations in the lawsuit are “not consistent” with the findings of the GCCC’s investigation.

“At the conclusion of the Career Center’s investigation, Mr. Harden was disciplined appropriately by our Board of Education, including suspension, mandatory training, and an agreement that any future misconduct would result in immediate termination,” the statement said.

The lawsuit — filed Jan. 17 — said the alleged mistreatment was disclosed to the student’s parents, Joy and Jacob Brown, in mid-December after they received a call from Nancy Early, one of the student’s teachers at the GCCC. The student also told his parents that Harden allegedly engaged in physical violence, intimidation, and harassment of other students, all males. It is alleged that Harden targeted the Brown’s child more than any other and he is the only student in the class with a physical disability.

The Browns and the student met with GCCC Director Brian McKnight and Xenia police officer/school resource officer David Elliot to report all the concerns, according to the lawsuit, which also states a meeting was set up with Harden and the Browns but they did not bring their son with to that meeting.

According the lawsuit, Harden acknowledged the incidents occurred, apologized for his behavior, and stated his intention was not to disrespect or harm the student.

The lawsuit also alleges that Harden said it was just “the culture of his classroom” and requested to speak with the student so he could “fix things.” Joy and Jacob Brown refused to allow Harden to have any contact with their son, according to the lawsuit.

After the meeting with Harden, Elliott met with Joy and Jacob Brown and explained that he could file a police report for physical abuse, but it would affect the school’s investigation, the lawsuit said.

In the lawsuit, the Browns explained that they wanted to discuss the situation further and allow the school time to complete its investigation and take appropriate action.

Earlier this month, Joy Brown received a call from Superintendent David Deskins, who asked if the Browns and their son would be willing to meet with administrators and Harden to “talk things out,” according to the lawsuit.

After talking with their attorney, the Browns said they would be willing to have a conversation with “the adults,” but their son would not be forced to confront “his abuser,” the lawsuit says.

Deskins allegedly said “he felt it was very important that (the student) look Harden ‘in the eyes and tell him how everything made him feel.’ ”

Deskins also allegedly said that the student needed to learn how to handle conflict and that there is “nothing to gain by coach (defendant Harden) being terminated.”

The Browns are asking for a permanent injunction barring the GCCC from allowing Harden to return to the classroom and also for an undetermined judgement against all the defendants in an amount to be proven in a jury trial.

This is a developing story and we will update it as more information is available.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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