Mother of former student files lawsuit against teacher, Guthrie Public Schools

The mother of a former student at Guthrie Public Schools has filed a lawsuit against a teacher, the school district, and the Oklahoma State Department of Education. The mother alleges her 13-year-old daughter was verbally bullied by a teacher.

The lawsuit was filed in the District Court of Logan County on March 5. Court papers show the plaintiff as Searra Socash and the defendants as Guthrie Public Schools, Oklahoma Department of Education, and Jeff McKinley.

The incident surfaced in late October 2023 when Oklahoma City television stations interviewed Socash and her daughter on camera about multiple events inside a Guthrie Upper Elementary School classroom.

According to the filed court papers, the teen was denied going to the bathroom by her math teacher, Mckinley, and subsequently “bled through her pants onto the classroom chair in the classroom.” The teen posted on the social media app TikTok, including a photo of McKinley, and referenced the incident.

The attorney for the plaintiff, James Pasquali, says McKinley, who continues to teach at the school, learned about the video and retaliated against several students with the brunt of the retaliation falling on the teen.

In one of the recordings, shared with a television station, you can hear McKinley, say, “You are an evil, conniving little girl…now you can go home and cry to your mama I don’t care. You can smile and laugh and think it’s all funny because yeah you are getting me worked up, so you are winning a little bit, that’s okay, but in the long run, I’m gonna be all right, you’re not.”

The court document goes on to read that the teen informed the school principal that the teacher yelled at her, that her mother was called a liar, and that she was bullied. The attorney says the principal told McKinley to apologize. The teen recorded the apology, which was also shared with television stations.

“Everything I said in the classroom earlier I meant and I think it’s true, however, I want to apologize for doing it in the class because that was the wrong place to do it so going forward I will do better about that and also not take out on you the things that your mom does because it’s not your fault even though you’re the cause of all of it it’s not your fault for her actions.” 

Afterward, the teen recorded several other recordings of McKinley allegedly threatening and bullying her in front of her classmates. The recordings described by the attorney as “intentional emotional abuse and bullying” were shared with the principal.

The next day the principal emailed the mother stating an investigation was underway regarding the teacher and that her daughter violated the district policy (F-40 personal wireless accounts) of recording conversations on school grounds or at school activities.

The teen’s last day at the school was Oct. 11, 2023.

Guthrie Public Schools does not comment on personnel issues or ongoing litigation.

The suit brings five claims, including intentional infliction of emotional distress by the teacher, negligence by the teacher (two by the school district), negligent hiring, and respondent superior which is intended to hold an employer legally responsible for wrongful acts.

Pasquali, in court papers, says the teen has suffered serious, psychological, and emotional suffering and distress, loss of enjoyment of life, has incurred overwhelming embarrassment and separation from her friends, and has been denied her right to a reasonable education at public expense without fear of abuse and bullying.


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