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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Huntsville school board meeting over basketball players "baptisms" subject of FOIA lawsuit

Fort Smith Attorney Joey McCutchen announced that he filed suit against the Huntsville School District and Huntsville Public Schools Board of Education for violating Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

The matter stems from male basketball players restraining other students while other basketball players placed their genitals on or in the faces of the restrained students. This sexual abuse was referred to as “baptism” by the offenders. The victims did not consent to the baptism whatsoever.

The lawsuit arises from the School Board’s consideration of disciplinary action against students who had engaged in the baptism. The matter was discussed in a meeting of the Huntsville School Board.

Although FOIA requires that notice must be given to the news media before the School Board held the meeting, the meeting was held without giving any notice. The School Board went into executive session in the meeting and voted on the disciplinary action involving the students.

The lawsuit also seeks a court order requiring the School Board to record its meetings, as required by state law. The meeting was not recorded.

McCutchen said “there is not a more serious matter than our children being sexually abused. It’s unfathomable in a case involving child sexual abuse and conflicts of interest, the school leadership would not provide full and complete transparency.” McCutchen continued, saying “the victims and their families deserve better; the School District and School Board are guiding our children and need to be held to the rule of law.”

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