A national nonprofit that helps parents involved in family court proceedings filed a lawsuit on behalf of an Andover father in federal court last week claiming South Elementary School Principal Brenda Lee harassed his daughter and the district denied him access to his children’s schools and records.
David Howard is seeking $25 million and accused the district of “intentional infliction of emotional harm” and violating his rights under the U.S. Constitution, the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act, and federal law. The lawsuit also names Superintendent Magda Parvey, former Andover High School Principal Caitlin Brown and Wood Hill Mill School Principal Robin Wilson, claiming Brown and Wilson the enforced the same restrictions as Lee.
Andover Public Schools does not comment on active litigation. Jill Jones-Soderman, the executive director of the Foundation for Child Victims of the Family Courts, said the nonprofit is in the process of filing an amended complaint on behalf of Howard to remove the name of his underage daughters and clarify its claims. She shared a memo with a draft of the amended complaint with Andover News on Friday.
According to the original complaint, Parvey told Howard he was “physically barred from access to the schools attended by his daughters” in Nov. 17 and Nov. 21 letters as Howard’s divorce and custody agreement was finalized. Howard claimed APS continued to enforce the ban after his divorce was finalized on Dec. 8, giving him full parental access to his daughters.
Disclosure: The author’s daughter is a student at South Elementary School.
The court award Howard’s ex-wife primary custody, but lifted all custody restrictions that had been placed on him at various times during the proceedings, according to court papers.
Howard’s lawsuit said Parvey’s November letters followed a Nov. 15 incident at South Elementary School. Howard claims Lee pulled his 11-year-old daughter from her classroom and “scolded” her for leaving school and going to her father’s house the previous day.
“Although [Howard’s daughter] assured Defendant Lee that she had been safe at all times with her father, Defendant Lee continued to harass” her, the complaint said. “She pulled [her] away from the lunchroom, in front of her friends, to scold her again and tell her it was not safe to be with her father.”
Howard contends Lee continued to harass his daughter in the following days and made her uncomfortable. Howard claims Lee’s actions “inflicted emotional distress” on him and his daughter.”
“[Howard’s daughter] has informed Plaintiff that she and her friends all agree that they would like to see the principal for her treatment of [Howard’s daughter],” the complaint said.