KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - An Anderson County teenager has filed a lawsuit over her temporary dismissal from a weightlifting class by a principal who feared male students might try to rape her.
Anderson County High School has asked a federal magistrate to dismiss the $1 million sex discrimination suit by student Ambrea Phillips and her father.
"There's no dispute she was removed," school attorney Arthur F. Knight said at a hearing Thursday. He contended Phillips was reinstated within days and suffered "no academic detriment whatsoever."
Phillips' attorney, Roger L. Ridenour, said stress from the incident caused the student to become physically ill. He said the handling of the situation by then-principal Bob McCracken is part of a pattern of mishandled sex issues at the high school.
Phillips was an honor student and a track team member when she signed up for the class, where she eventually earned an A. She has since graduated and is in college.
McCracken said in a deposition that he was afraid Phillips might be sexually assaulted in the class.
"Having a female with 35 or so male students in an isolated area from the school, it sets a very liable situation in my opinion," McCracken said in the deposition.
Three days after kicking Phillips out of the class, McCracken changed his mind and reinstated her.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley asked Knight if the principal was wrong in removing Phillips from the class.
"She is up there with a bunch of football players, a 24- to 25-year-old coach, the only girl - there is a safety issue there. It was a hard call for the principal to make," Knight answered.
When the judge again asked Knight if McCracken made the right decision, the attorney said he hadn't found another court case that would have given McCracken good guidance on what to do.
The judge said he would rule later on whether the lawsuit can continue.