Private School Rewards Snitches, Parents Say
HOUSTON (CN) - A Christian high school rewards students for providing "covert intelligence" on classmates, and forced a girl to withdraw after a student spy falsely accused her of smoking pot, her parents claim in court.
David and Debra Mouton sued Houston Christian High School behalf of their daughter, C, in Harris County Court.
The parents also claim the school dean asked their daughter intrusive, sexual questions.
The Moutons say they paid $18,000 to enroll their daughter in the school based on representations in its student and parent handbooks.
"It will be shown that Houston Christian High School failed to disclose, and deceptively concealed from plaintiffs a number of critical facts," the complaint states.
"First, the student and parent handbooks provided to plaintiffs state the following about the so-called 'D-Group': This so called 'D-Group' is thus ostensibly in existence for the benefit of a student's personal religious growth.
"However, it became apparent after (C) began her studies at Houston Christian High School that the 'D-Group' is much more than this.
"Defendant's administration relies upon, and encourages members of the 'D-Group' to provide covert intelligence regarding student activities; i.e. to be informants.
"Not only does the so-called 'D-Group' receive accolades and special treatment for their covert activities, the reports made by the 'D-Group' members of alleged student misconduct are apparently relied on by defendant's administration as if they were fact.
"In (C's) case, a member of the 'D-Group' wrote a note to the administration accusing (C.M.) of smoking marijuana."
The Moutons say that in response to the allegations, their daughter voluntarily took three drug tests "all of which came back negative."
However, "Even after three (3) drug tests proved that (C) had done nothing wrong, out of the presence of Dr. and Mrs. Mouton, and without their knowledge or consent, defendant's administration sequestered (C) in an office and coerced a 'confession' by offering her 'leniency' if she just fess-up," the complaint states.
"Fearing more accusations and interrogations, (C) gave in to the pressure and said she had 'tried something.' Then, in exchange for her forced confession, (C) was informed that she would either be expelled with a marijuana use reference, or that she could withdraw from defendant's school. (C) was thereby forced to withdraw, at which time she was held in the office of the school counselor, Carol Bertels, against her will, for at least an hour, while her locker was cleaned out and searched by the dean."
Though the school handbooks "clearly state that upon receiving a report of alleged student misconduct, the administration will conduct an investigation before taking disciplinary action," it uses "Gestapo-type tactics" to get confessions out of students, the Moutons say in the complaint.
"Defendant's institution even goes so far as to interrogate students, in the presence of their parents, regarding alleged and/or supposed sexual activities; even asking if certain photos are 'arousing' or words to that effect," the Moutons say.
"During one such sexual interrogation of (C), defendant's dean sequestered (C) in his office, shut the door, and out of the presence of (her) parents, asked (C) if she had engaged in oral sex with her boyfriend.
"Houston Christian High School's own sexual harassment policy clearly prohibits such inappropriate and abusive inquiries; absent an obvious pregnancy."
After their daughter left Houston Christian High School, she applied to Houston Episcopal High School and was denied admission, the parents say.
"Plaintiffs have been informed that the reason for (C's) inability to attend Episcopal is because defendant's school administration has apparently informed Episcopal that (she) had been using marijuana," the complaint states.
The Moutons seek $30,000 - what they paid for their daughter's tuition and school supplies to attend Houston Christian High School, plus the $7,000 they paid to enroll her in a new school after she was forced out.
They allege negligent misrepresentation, deceptive trade, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by David A. Bryant Jr. of Houston.