Owens receives court settlement following GPA related request

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By Susan Sharp

A Campbell County guidance counselor has made a case for mental anguish receiving $22,000 through a court settlement in the process.

On Monday, Campbell County High School Guidance Counselor Ken Owens’ complaint and agreed settlement were filed in Campbell County Circuit Court.

The total award granted to Owens by Circuit Court Judge John McAfee was $28,603.74, around $5,700 of that will go to Owens’ attorney, David Dunaway for legal fees, court records said.

Owens said in his complaint that on March 9, 2008 he “sustained a psychological injury” while on the job. In the weeks after the injury, he sought medical treatment on his own.

As the court record continues, it reveals what the alleged nature of the harm was.

In a medical report filed on Owens’ behalf by Dr. C.M. Salekin, Owens claims on March 9, 2008 he received a phone call from the secondary supervisor for Campbell County schools. During the course of that call, the supervisor asked Owens to “increase the grade point average of a particular student” in order for the senior to graduate as a valedictorian, the court file said. Owens refused the request but was left feeling “hurt and surprised” by the request.

Later he was approached by the school principal and told to make the change. The principal acknowledged “the request was illegal and inappropriate” but felt there was no choice for fear of being fired, according to the medical report.

Owens claimed his next course of action was to report this to the school board. However, as he sat in a meeting of the board, the subject was not broached. Instead, Owens said he was later told by a school official he had broken student confidentiality and could be facing legal action, the court filing said.

After this, Owens developed a continuous feeling of sadness, fear of being persecuted on the job and concern for being fired, the report said.

Along with this came high blood pressure, treatment for depression and pneumonia along with a blood clot in his lung.

The agreed order in the case says all parties, including the Campbell County Board of Education, agree that these circumstances have caused Owens to suffer a partial disability.

While Owens will be responsible for any medical expenses sustained prior to the filing, the local BOE will assume the costs going forward.

Owens was given $28,603. 74 in damages. After Dunaway is paid, that leaves a net award of $22,087.49.

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