SAVANNAH -- Some teachers stand students in the corner, others expel them from class or take points off their overall grade. Theodore Brown sues for $100 million. Brown, a Savannah Technical Institute math instructor of 24 years, has filed separate civil suits in Chatham County Superior Court against two students. They claim the only thing they're guilty of is trying to get an education.
Brown says his career and reputation were damaged by the two -- Amanda Glover and Rechon Ross. He is seeking $100 million in punitive damages and court costs from each of them.
Brown is representing himself. The students are being represented by attorney Kathleen Horne.
She says her clients are neither rich nor classroom troublemakers.
''They're just women trying to do something with their lives,'' Horne said.
Glover was a student in Math 97 -- a remedial math class that Brown taught this summer. His suit alleges she refused to purchase a textbook and disrupted the learning process by borrowing books from other students during class.
Brown claims she became verbally abusive to him on at least three occasions and embarrassed him in front of the class. He also alleges she filed complaints with his supervisors, which resulted in disciplinary action that he declined to discuss.
Brown claims he suffered character defamation, humiliation in front of students, faculty and staff, a blemished career record and mental and emotional distress.
Ross took Brown's Math 101 class this summer. He says she also defamed and embarrassed him, causing trouble with his supervisors and damaging his career record and emotional well-being.
Ross is raising two children with sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease that prevents the normal flow of oxygen-carrying blood through the body and causes pain and damage to vital organs. She said she didn't enroll in school to end up in court with her teacher.
''I was working two jobs and I went back to school to be able to do better for my kids,'' Ross said. ''Then in my first semester I ended up with this.''
Most people laugh at the thought of a teacher suing students after a difficult day in class.
''Even the sheriff's deputy who served me with the paperwork was laughing,'' Ross said.
But this isn't funny to the parties involved.
Ross said the case filed against her is absurd but she still finds it difficult to walk Savannah
Tech's halls each day, wondering if her accuser is around the corner. Horne is working to complete a response to the suits filed against both students. Once filed, pretrial discovery and possible motions by lawyers to dismiss or alter the cases will begin. If the judge does not dismiss the case, a trial date will be scheduled.
Brown said he couldn't be more serious about the lawsuits and became irritated when asked about the probability of his cases actually making their way to trial. He insisted his claims have merit. But he wouldn't discuss the blemishes on his career record, allegedly caused by the students.
''I don't want to give my case away,'' he said.
But is a $100 million lawsuit a reasonable way to teach a student a lesson about proper classroom conduct?
''This is America,'' Brown said. Savannah Tech rules prohibit students from causing severe emotional distress or inflicting physical or verbal abuse on others. According to the student code of conduct:
''Any student, acting individually or in concert with others, who violates any part of the student conduct code shall be subject to disciplinary procedures, including dismissal from a class session by the instructor and/or suspension or expulsion by the president or designee.''
Institution rules also provide recourse for students who feel they have been mistreated by a teacher. The grievance policy requires students to file written complaints. An investigation is conducted and administrators determine whether or not disciplinary action should be taken.
Administrators with Savannah Tech could not be reached for comment.
Brown admitted the students probably aren't multimillionaires. But he seemed to think that, if he wins, there is a real possibility he can collect the millions of dollars he seeks -- some day.
''You heard about the man that only had $23 in his bank account the morning he hit the lottery for $187 million,'' Brown said. ''You never know what people have.'' ************************************************* -- Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O] (618) 457-8903 [H] Fax: (618) 453-4244 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org