Trial date set for former Carencro Middle principal accused of harassment

Spurgeon Banyard speaks to parents in October 2012, shortly after becoming principal at Carencro Middle. (File photo courtesy: The Daily Advertiser)

(The Daily Advertiser) –  A federal trial has been set for November for a case involving the former principal of Carencro Middle School.

Spurgeon Banyard resigned from the post in April 2015 after about three years at Carencro Middle. His resignation came after the state suspended his teaching certification after officials discovered a felony on his record.

Two former school employees, Ada Thomas and Sandra Stevens, filed civil suits in district court against Banyard, alleging harassment and unwanted advances.

Stevens’ suit against Banyard is now in federal court. According to court documents, Stevens is suing both Banyard and the Lafayette Parish School Board.

Stevens was a special education teacher at Carencro Middle. According to court documents, she alleges the board knew Banyard “had a history of harassing, intimidating and threatening employees under his supervision based on their gender” when he was hired. It also alleges that then-Superintendent Pat Cooper and other district officials did not properly investigated complaints against Banyard, “but rather, was aimed at distorting the truth and shielding Banyard from reproach.”

In court records, Stevens alleges Banyard made several unwanted advances toward her and repeatedly denied her requests to make doctor’s appointments to manage a heart condition.

Banyard allegedly told Stevens that he brought her to Carencro Middle because “these boys need something to look at” and repeatedly told her there was “something about you that I like,” according to court documents. Banyard also allegedly repeatedly asked to go to Stevens’ home and go out for drinks with her.

Stevens is asking for a jury trial and at least $75,000 in damages for mental and emotional distress and civil-rights violations.

In court documents, Banyard and his attorneys deny all of Stevens’ allegations.

Stevens is now at another school in the district. Banyard returned to his native Mississippi after his resignation. Jeff Janette was named Carencro Middle principal last year.

All of the alleged actions took place prior to current Superintendent Donald Aguillard’s tenure, and before seven of the nine current school board members were in office

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