GREENVILLE, Miss. (CN) – A school principal tried to have a parent arrested – twice – after reading a comment an unrelated student made on his middle-school daughter’s Facebook page, the dad claims in Federal Court. The dad says Guntown Middle School Principal Steven Havens went ballistic after seeing a Facebook suggestion that students should wear blue jeans with holes in them “to make Principal Havens mad.”
Mark Cash sued Havens and the Lee County School District for state and federal constitutional violations.
“Sometime around February of 2010,” Cash says, his daughter “advised him that the principal at Guntown Middle School, Steven Havens, had called her to the office regarding comments made on her Facebook page.”
Cash says he went to school to talk to Havens about it, “and Principal Havens advised the plaintiff that he had viewed his daughter’s Facebook page and saw where someone had written a statement about the students wearing blue jeans with holes in them to make Principal Havens mad.”
Refraining, perhaps wisely, from speculating about how much time the principal spends reading kids’ Facebook pages, and whether he does it at work or on his own time, the complaint continues: “Principal Havens went on to advise the plaintiff that every time a student wore blue jeans with holes to school, his daughter would be punished. The plaintiff objected to this remark and advised Principal Havens that he could not punish his daughter for the actions of other students.
“Principal Havens did not like the plaintiff’s tone and asked him to leave his office. The plaintiff stated that he would like to resolve this issue and Principal Havens stated that if the plaintiff did not leave, he was going to call the police. The plaintiff advised Principal Havens that he would be outside waiting on the police. He further stated that he believed Principal Havens to be a coward.
“An officer with the Guntown Police Department arrived at the school and Principal Havens came outside and advised that he wanted the plaintiff arrested. They did not have a warrant for the plaintiff’s arrest and the plaintiff advised the officer that if anything came up, to give him a call and provided his business card to the officer.”
But Cash says the story didn’t end there.
“Approximately two weeks later, the Chief of Police of the Guntown Police Department called the plaintiff and advised him that a warrant for his arrest had been issued as a result of the incident. The plaintiff then presented himself at the Guntown Police Department, where he was booked and then taken to the Judge’s house via patrol unit to be served with papers stating that the plaintiff could not go to any Lee County schools and/or attend any functions at Lee County schools,” the complaint states.
“Subsequent to these events, the plaintiff was given permission to drop off and pick up his children at school. On the first day of the 2010-2011 school year, the plaintiff was picking up his daughter from school at Saltillo High School and saw Principal Havens. Principal Havens called the Saltillo Police Department and requested that the plaintiff be arrested. Two officers pulled the plaintiff over and requested that he step out of this vehicle. The plaintiff was then required to call his then attorney who contacted representatives of the Lee County School District, who advised the officers not to arrest the plaintiff.”
Cash seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations, unreasonable seizures, physical pain and suffering, “mental and emotional anguish and fear … stigma, humiliation, fright, emotional trauma” and other damages, which he says were inflicted with malice.
He is represented by Michael Cooke of Iuka, Miss.