by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/AP Member – editor@thegazebogazette.com

The Pass Christian School District, Jones County Junior College, Former Pass Christian High School Assistant Principal Jedediah “Jed” Mooney, 5 minor individual students along with unnamed others who were accused of inaction of supervision, bullying, causing health and mental problems to the plaintiff on Friday, May 20, 2022 in the U.S. Southern District Court by attorney’s Christopher Van Cleave and Douglas Tynes of their respective law firms during a soccer camp in 2021.  The minors’ parents or guardians were each served with the lawsuit from the plaintiff.

According to the lawsuit about the incidents which occurred from June 16-19, 2021 the Pass Christian High School Soccer Team went on a summer camp to Jones County Junior College.  During this time frame; the victim (who was 15 at the time), endured bullying, four sexual assault incidents, harassing, humiliation, and abuse with little to no supervision.

The lawsuit claimed the only Pass Christian representative there was Boys Soccer Coach Michael Archibald, but he has not been named in the lawsuit as a defendant.  In the suit, Archibald was claimed to not provide supervision in the dorm rooms provided except in the morning before game preparation.

“In June 2021, following an overnight community college summer camp, an incident was reported involving student-athletes. The high school principal and the athletic coordinator conducted an immediate in-depth investigation which was presented at both school- and district-level disciplinary hearings,” stated Pass Christian School District Superintendent Dr. Carla Evers.  “The school and district followed their code of conduct and disciplined the involved students.”

In the lawsuit, the minor victim reportedly has Darier disease, a skin condition that flares up anytime it comes into contact with contaminants.  According to the plaintiff lawyer, this was known and one of the minors pursued the victim despite this condition by stealing money, putting different contaminants on clothing, and stomping on jersey during the school year.  The current high school assistant principal Mooney; now the Pass Christian Middle School principal, reportedly allowed this or turned a “blind eye.”

With the display of these incidents and sexual assault at the camp on social media; according to the litigation, the victim was humiliated and has a strain on mental, health, and social conditions.

Although there was no reported action or extensive punishment of the student-athletes, the lawsuit claimed that then Principal Boyd West did conduct an investigation among the students where the minors said to keep it quiet on what happened in the 2021 camp despite the display of pictures and videos on social media.  West resigned from his position as high school principal and is currently Moss Point High School principal.

Neither the lawsuit nor any media report was made about the disciplinary action that happened to the minors.

Dr. Evers expressed the following in a statement to The Gazebo Gazette:  “The Pass Christian Public School District believes that all students should be accepted, valued, and safe.  The policies of the District make clear that no child should be subject to the reported treatment. Our community has trusted the District with the education of its youth since 1887, and we appreciate its support as we continue to hold our students to high expectations regarding their conduct. Students who act outside of our expectations will continue to be held accountable for their actions, as were the students in this case.”

The lawsuit alleges that Jones County Junior College holds responsibility too, due to their lack of supervision during the incidents.  It states the camp agreement the junior college would provide oversight of all the high school student athletes while staying in the college dorms or in the common living area where one incident occurred.

Three sources from the community who have been associated with the Pass Christian school district all claimed inaction by the school has a history of causing problems or students leaving.  “A culture change” has been mentioned along with a routine “Athletic Hazing” by each source.

Evers and members of the school district state the only way they can fix a problem in the school is by reporting the occurrence, but they may not be enough.

“The district is aware of the lawsuit filed in federal court and looks forward to having an opportunity to share all of the facts in court,” said Dr. Evers.  “This case has brought to light the importance of talking to your children about making good decisions and reporting when they see something that does not meet our expectations.”

The claim letter offered to settle the case for $500,000 if the school district adopted a zero tolerance anti-bullying policy, and required all students and staff to participate in mandatory training.

Pass Christian School District has authorized an extensive “zero-tolerance policy,” that has come under questions raised by the community or the school board because of how it is used.

 The victim’s parents say they “were forced to remove him from school” because their son had become “extremely fearful of attending school and terrified that he might be subjected to further abuse.” Although the parents’ names are in court records, The Gazebo Gazette is not identifying them or the minor defendant.

No preliminary trial date nor deposition has been set in the litigation.