A former elementary school principal is suing the Moberly Public School District, accusing it of defamation after the school board suspended him without pay for the remainder of his contract.
In a lawsuit filed April 18 in Cole County, Richards Boyce, who was the principal of Gratz Brown Elementary School until April 2005, argues that the school district’s decision was “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable, and an abuse of its discretion.”
The board’s 6-1 vote last month to suspend Boyce came almost a year after four female students — three third-graders and one fourth-grader — said that Boyce inappropriately touched them, according to the lawsuit.
The students said Boyce put his hand inside their shirts and down their backs to their waists and also placed his hand on their upper thighs, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit maintains that the students later recanted their testimony.
Boyce is seeking compensation for emotional stress, damage to his reputation and loss of retirement brought on by the school board’s decision, the lawsuit says.
He is seeking damages against Superintendent Robert Bach and the seven-member school board. Six school board members, Lisa Vanderburg, Ken Asbury, Les Keleher, Jeff Lashley, Greg McCluskey, and Dan Wilcox, along with Bach, are being sued both as private citizens and in their official capacities. The seventh board member, Mary Lou Kimmons, is being sued only in her official capacity, as she was the lone school board member to vote against suspending Boyce without pay.