Mother of student allegedly body slammed by Canton teacher files lawsuit against school district

CANTON, Ohio - The mother of a student who was allegedly body-slammed to the ground by a Canton teacher last December has filed a lawsuit against Canton City School District and the teacher involved in the incident.

McKinley High School teacher Ken Weatherbee resigned in January after a cell phone video showed him apparently body slamming the student to the ground. 

The student identified as T.M. in the lawsuit, who was part of the Individualized Education Program for students in need of special education services, was enrolled for the 2017-2018 school year at McKinley High School. He was also assigned to Weatherbee's classroom.

On Dec. 4, 2017, the student was arguing with another student when Weatherbee called security. Two school resource assistants came to the classroom, according to the lawsuit.

Although there were assistants in the classroom, Weatherbee approached T.M. from behind and grabbed him by the arm. As T.M. turned around to see who was grabbing him, Weatherbee grabbed him by the neck and body slammed him to the floor, the lawsuit alleges.

In the video, the school resource assistants can be seen standing in the distance while Weatherbee and T.M. engaged in the physical incident.

After the student was slammed to the floor, the lawsuit says T.M. left the classroom peacefully with school assistants.

Following the incident, assistant principal Chris Stone called T.M.'s mother to explain how Weatherbee "put his arm out" and T.M. was "pushing on the teacher" so the teacher had to restrain him," according to the lawsuit.

In May 2015, Weatherbee was convicted of a misdemeanor count of domestic violence.

He didn't have to serve jail time, but his educator's license in Ohio was suspended for 60 days and he had to complete 40 hours of community service as part of a consent agreement with the Ohio Board of Education.

The lawsuit said the school district did not have Weatherbee evaluated or tested for his unusual behavior despite a history of violence. 

In response to the lawsuit, the Canton School District filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Adrian E. Allison, Superintendent of the Canton City School District, released the following statement to News 5.

The Canton City School District is aware of the lawsuit filed against the district, two of its employees (in their official capacities) and former teacher Ken Weatherbee resulting from the December incident in which Mr. Weatherbee physically assaulted a student. Mr. Weatherbee’s actions were inconsistent with both the standards of the teaching profession and the training he received.  As a result, he was immediately placed on leave once we became aware of the incident and subsequently resigned in lieu of termination proceedings.  His actions do not represent the high quality teachers in the Canton City School District. The district is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our students and staff and takes seriously any allegations to the contrary. Our insurance company has engaged legal counsel to represent the interests of the district and its employees named in the lawsuit. Because this is an ongoing legal matter the district will not comment further at this time.

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