Kristin Whitley

Max Stieve

Court Case 4


Baynard v. Malone, 268 F. 3d 228 - Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit 2001

Argued: June 6, 2001.

Decided: September 26, 2001.
Prior to and during 1990-91, Craig Lawson was a sixth grade teacher at Charles Barrett Elementary School in Alexandria, VA, where Catherine Malone was principal. In March of 1990, Stevie Leckie, a former student of Lawson’s, contacted Malone to inform her that Lawson had molested him fifteen years earlier when he was a sixth-grade student. Leckie was not interested in pressing charges against Lawson but warned Malone to make sure that Lawson was not spending any extra time with students outside of class. Leckie’s mom later confirmed his story. Malone took no action nor did she report it to anyone. She also failed to record the name or any information about a woman who informed her that Lawson had sexually molested a student. However, Malone did talk to Lawson after the school librarian reported that she walked in to his classroom, before school hours, and Jackson Baynard (a current student of Lawson’s) was sitting on his lap in a seemingly inappropriate way. Malone advised Lawson to limit physical contact with students. Malone took no further action until a teacher relayed to her a neighbor’s contention that Lawson was abusing students. Malone then reported this incident and Leckie’s accusation to the Alexandria City School Board’s personnel director, Otto Beckhoff, who instructed her to monitor Lawson’s activities; Malone never reported seeing Lawson and Baynard together. Beckhoff informed the superintendent and began an investigation. Leckie’s parents, the neighbor who alleged abuse, and school officials from Lawson’s former school district were interviewed. The police began an investigation which was closed shortly after, for lack of evidence. Lawson continued to abuse Baynard for nine more years, until Baynard reported the abuse and Lawson was arrested and convicted.
Decision and Rational:
Beckhoff, Masem, and ACSB were found not liable by the federal district court for not enough evidence. Malone however was found to be in the wrong doing in this case. She had the information that one of her teachers had acted inappropriately and she did nothing to protect the students. The courts held her responsible because she had the information at hand but did nothing about the issue. The court looked to the requirements under Section 1983. In which state officials can be responsible in this case for Lawson’s abuse as long as three requirements were met and they were which made the charges reasonable.
Impact on Teaching:
Teachers are required to report any injustice involving students or coworkers. If we fail to do so then we are completely liable for the results. The best thing to do is document everything as well as reports it to the proper people when necessary. This is for our own good and for the good of people we are reporting of.
True/False: Teachers are not required to report information about abuse to students.