A former substitute teacher accused of slapping and restraining students in 2014 is suing the East Valley School District for $500,000 after being acquitted of all charges this summer.
In a suit filed Friday, Matthew C. Deryan said the district “willfully, maliciously and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.”
A jury acquitted Deryan of 12 counts of assault and unlawful imprisonment after a June trial.
In January 2014, Deryan worked as a substitute teacher at Trent Elementary. He was teaching a class of about 20 sixth-grade students who, according to the suit, had behavioral problems. The students were already upset at the previous day’s substitute teacher, according to court documents. When Deryan threatened some unruly students with detention, two students asked to be excused.
They went to the principal’s office and accused Deryan of “slapping students, drinking beer in the class and locking the students inside the class,” according to court documents.
Shortly after then-principal Frank Brou removed Deryan from his classroom and told him about the accusations. The principal asked Deryan if he could smell his coffee and breath to check for alcohol. During the criminal trial the principal said he didn’t smell alcohol.
Additionally Deryan told the principal that the classroom doors could not be locked from inside. After sending Deryan home the principal wrote a letter to the parents of the children in the class.
The letter started: “Emergency Situation this afternoon: it appears that this afternoon a substitute teacher in one of our classrooms put his hands on students and did other inappropriate things.”
That evening Deryan was arrested. According to the court documents he spent six days in solitary confinement, while his family tried to post bail. At one point he was left in a shower for eight hours, according to court documents.
Following his arrest the school district released another letter, this time to all East Valley School district households. Following that letter “accusations began to pile up against Matt and other students came forward with outlandish accusations,” according to court documents.
In the ensuing months Deryan was accused of threatening to slash a student’s throat and of bringing a six-pack of beer to class and throwing the empty cans into the trash.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office recommended 29 charges against Deryan. However, he was only charged with 12, and was acquitted on all counts in June.
Deryan’s public defender, Brooke Hagara said she argued that, “he didn’t do it, and that a situation that occurred in a classroom was blown out of proportion.”
East Valley School District Superintendent Kelly Shea declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Shea has been superintendent at East Valley since July, 2015.
Deryan did not return calls and emails requesting comment, Wednesday.
In the court documents he said the district’s actions, as well as the publicity of the accusations, have prevented him from working and he suffers from stress and trauma.
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