Teacher, football coach physically, verbally abused student with cerebral palsy, lawsuit alleges

A Beavercreek family is accusing a Greene County Career Center teacher, who is also the Xenia High School Football coach, of abusing their son.

The lawsuit filed earlier this month names the board of education, the superintendent, and teacher Maurice Harden as defendants.

The student in the lawsuit is a 17-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy. His parents claim that he told them in December that he’d been victimized by violence in Harden’s classroom.

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“They assumed the school would do the right thing and make sure their son and other students were protected,” Stefanie Coe, the family’s lawyer, told News Center 7′s Mike Campbell.

As reported on News Center 7 at 5, the parents were outraged when their son told them about one incident where Harden allegedly pushed the teen’s table into his stomach, then grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him out of his chair onto the floor.

The lawsuit states Harden “stood over (the teen), physically restraining him from moving” and then proceeded to “verbally assault, humiliate, and intimidate” him.

Harden allegedly knocked the teen from his chair to the ground about 10 to 15 times in the first semester of the school year.

The family claims that none of these incidents were due to the teen being disruptive or breaking school rules. Furthermore, they claim there is a video recording of at least one incident.

“It does seem like that was the culture in the classroom. I think the question is, is that the appropriate culture in the classroom,” Coe said.

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News Center 7 reached out to the school district and superintendent about the allegations. In a statement, they said that they learned of the claims 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. 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 statement read in part.

While the investigation was ongoing, Harden “was assigned to home.”

“It is important to know that the allegations contained in a federal lawsuit are not consistent with the findings of our internal 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,” their statement continued.

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Harden returned to school until the court issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting him from being on school property. He’s currently assigned to home, the district confirmed.

News Center 7 also reached out to Harden’s lawyer. In a statement, he called Harden a “well-respected and beloved teacher and coach.”

“What has been alleged in the filed complaint is not consistent with the facts. We will work through and cooperate with the legal process,” Attorney Bryan Mahoney said.