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Thursday, February 22, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, February 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Educator Blames Hidden Camera for Career’s End

(CN) - A former high school principal in South Carolina claims in court he was forced to resign from his job after learning the district superintendent installed a hidden camera his office and had filmed him changing for his daily workout.

In a complaint filed n Union County, S.C., plaintiff Floyd Lyles, Jr. says until he had a falling out with defendant Dr. Kristi Woodall, superintendent for the Union County School District, his career had been marked by success and one promotion after another.

Initially hired as a math teacher in 1998, by 2004 he had been named assistant principal at the Union County High School, and over the next eight years he advanced to a number of other administrative positions at other schools in the district before returning to the high school to serve as its principal.

But Lyles claims his relationship with the district soured after he asked for a raise prior to the 2013-2014 school year.

Lyles says in making his request, he pointed out that he had taken a poor performing school and turned it around, the result being "significant improvement in classroom scores and staff morale."

"Defendant showed outright animus towards Plaintiff telling him he should be satisfied with the raise he got at the time of his 2012 promotion," the complaint says.

Unsatisfied with that response, and believing he was being treated differently from other principals and administrators who he knew had received merit raises from time to time, Lyles renewed his quest for a raise, and again saw his request denied.

Lyles says he received "no explanation as to why he had been denied a raise. Defendant's actions were hostile and exhibited outright indifference towards Plaintiff."

Specifically he claims the disagreement over salary placed him in the crosshairs of district Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall, who he says retaliated against him by taking away one of the assistant principal positions in his school and moving it to the district's much smaller career center.

Other disputes followed.

Lyles says the matters came to a head on March 10, 2015, after what he describes as months of harassment by the defendants, when he was confronted by Woodall who informed him that a hidden camera had been placed in his office and that he' been caught on tape engaging in "improper behavior."

He says he was shocked by this revelation because Woodall knew and condoned his using his office to change clothes before and after his twice-a-day workouts. The next day, he says, Woodall gave him the option to resign or else face an investigation of his alleged improper behavior.

"Plaintiff knew that he had done nothing improper during the performance of his job on tape or off tape, Dr. Woodall had been spying on him and invading his privacy while he changed clothes in his office which caused Plaintiff a great deal of embarrassment, mental anguish, and humiliation," the complaint says.

As a result, "Plaintiff felt he had no option other than to resign," it continues.

Lyles seeks compensatory and punitive damages, from pay, back pay and injunctive relief on claims of breach of contract, breach of contract with fraudulent intent, wrongful discharge, invasion of privacy.

He is represented by Donald Gist and Keira Dillon of Columbia, S.C.

Representatives of the school district did not immediately respond to an emailed requested for comment from Courthouse News.

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