Education

Settlement offered in Montravious Thomas lawsuit against MCSD employees, contractor

Surveillance video shows Montravious Thomas being carried from MCSD school after incident

Video and an incident report were leaked to All on Georgia by “sources in the school system” and posted on the site.
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Video and an incident report were leaked to All on Georgia by “sources in the school system” and posted on the site.

A settlement has been offered by one of the defendants in the $25 million lawsuit filed on behalf of Montravious Thomas, the Muscogee County School District student whose amputated leg allegedly resulted from being body-slammed five times by contracted behavior specialist Bryant Mosley two years ago.

Mentoring and Behavioral Services LLC of Columbus, which employed Mosley then, filed the settlement offer in Muscogee County State Court. The dollar amount isn’t disclosed, and lawyers representing Montravious and MBS declined to comment about the case when the Ledger-Enquirer reached them Thursday.

This spring, MCSD was dropped as a defendant in the lawsuit. The five MCSD employees named in the lawsuit also were dropped as defendants in their official capacities, but they remain defendants in their individual capacities, as does Mosley and MBS. Those MCSD employees are superintendent David Lewis, teacher Zehra Malone, paraprofessional Phyllis Fox, administrator Eddie Powell and bus driver Gisela Huggins.

The Ledger-Enquirer reported in April that Montravious was “restrained” — not “body-slammed,” as his lawyers contend — during the confrontation he had Sept. 12, 2016, with Mosley at the AIM (Achievement, Integrity, Maturity) program, an alternative school for students with severe discipline violations in the Edgewood Student Services Center (now housed in the Marshall Success Center), according to the Columbus Police Department’s final report of its investigation.

CPD complied with the Ledger-Enquirer’s open records request and released the case file through the city attorney’s office after deciding no charges would be filed because no evidence of criminal misconduct was found.

Attorneys representing the 13-year-old boy whose leg was amputated after allegedly being thrown to the floor at Edgewood Student Services Center say a portion of the video from the classroom shows Montravious Thomas being slammed to the floor five

Montravious’ mother, Lawanda Thomas, through the family’s lawyers, has claimed her then-13-year-old son’s injury that day, after multiple surgeries, resulted in his right leg being amputated below the knee.

Montravious’ lawyers, Forrest Johnson and Renee Tucker of Atlanta-based Forrest B. Johnson & Associates, have called Columbus Police Lt. Consuelo Askew’s role as the lead investigator a conflict of interest because she was MCSD’s part-time security officer on duty at Edgewood that day. They filed a motion to add her as a defendant in the case.

At a public forum last summer, two Muscogee County School Board members, John Thomas of District 2 and Frank Myers of District 8, also accused Askew of having a conflict of interest.

During the July 20, 2017, public forum to discuss the Montravious Thomas case, Muscogee County School Board members Frank Myers and John Thomas denounced the administration.

In April, Montravious’ lawyers said they are willing to release the classroom surveillance video that shows the confrontation with Mosley. The Ledger-Enquirer asked them for the status of that promise Thursday, but didn’t receive an answer before deadline.

Leaked video depicting Mosley carrying Montravious to the bus shows only part of the story, MCSD insisted in October 2016. In January 2018, the Ledger-Enquirer sued MCSD after the district refused to release the classroom surveillance video. That case is pending in Muscogee County Superior Court.

Another pending legal action from the incident at Edgewood is the federal lawsuit against MCSD filed Sept. 8, 2017, by Powell. He alleges racial discrimination, retaliation for having complained about racial discrimination, and a violation of the Georgia Whistleblower Protection Act after he leaked the surveillance video that shows Mosley carrying Montravious to the bus, although it doesn’t show any moments in the classroom.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.

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