Ex-staffer accuses Carencro principal of sexual harassment

A former assistant principal at Carencro Middle School has filed a lawsuit claiming the school’s principal, Spurgeon Banyard, humiliated her in front of teachers, sexually harassed her and failed to reimburse her for out-of-pocket expenses she made on his behalf.

Ada Thomas is suing for damages in excess of $75,000 and for a non-classroom job in the Lafayette Parish school system other than at Carencro Middle.

Thomas also names the Lafayette Parish School Board and Superintendent Pat Cooper as defendants.

Banyard did not return a message left at his office Wednesday, and Cooper did not return one left on his cell phone.

No court dates have been set in the case.

According to the lawsuit, filed March 21 by Lafayette attorney Harold Register Jr., Banyard began his job as principal at the school in October 2012.

Thomas claims Banyard “insisted” she rent him a room at her home, “to which she vehemently refused on the basis that she enjoys her privacy and further, such arrangement would be unethical,” the suit states.

The suit also claims Banyard humiliated Thomas in a March 2013 meeting after she told teachers who attended the meeting how to deal with problem students.

Speaking to the teachers Thomas had just addressed, Banyard reportedly said, “When you write up a student and you are not pleased with the results that Ada Thomas gives a student, all you have to do is inform me and I will handle,” according to the suit.

Being dressed down in front of subordinates “caused Ada Thomas to be looked upon in a negative light and as a result, lose credibility with the teachers, which is very critical,” the suit states.

Back in her office after the incident, Banyard allegedly walked behind Thomas and massaged her shoulders.

“Take your hands off me, please,” Thomas told him, according to the account provided in the suit.

“You know you need a massage,” Banyard reportedly said.

Later that afternoon, the suit claims, Thomas was on bus duty when Banyard asked her to dinner.

“NO!” Thomas said, according to the suit.

Months later, on Oct. 17, 2013, Thomas checked into the Vermilion Behavioral Hospital for a four-day stay.

When she checked out of the clinic, she applied with the school district for a leave of absence “because she simply could not endure facing Banyard,” according to the suit.

Superintendent Cooper notified her by mail days later that she was suspended without pay for three days.

On Dec. 6, Thomas received a another letter from Cooper, demoting her to classroom teacher and transferring her to Northside High School.

The suit claims Thomas’ right to due process was denied by the school system, and she is owed money for medical expenses, pain and suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress, attorney fees and other claims.

The suit also states Register, Thomas’ attorney, is entitled to one-third of any monetary damages awarded to Thomas.