Former Villa Rica High School basketball coach Derrick Mitchell has filed a civil suit versus the Carroll County Board of Education a/k/a Carroll County School District claiming the “Defendant caused false and defamatory statements to be published regarding Plaintiffs character and reputation and have impaired his ability to carry on his profession as a teacher and coach.”
Mitchell was removed from his head coaching position earlier this year, following an investigation into a concern brought to the district’s attention.
Following his dismissal as head coach, the school district sent WLBB Radio the following response to our media request on January 24th, 2023.
“The district was notified of a concern involving the Villa Rica High School Boys’ Head Basketball Coach. The Carroll County School System takes any allegation of employee misconduct very seriously, and we followed a rigorous process to conduct a thorough investigation. While we cannot comment on specific findings of the investigation due to confidentiality rights of the employee, we can assure the community that we will take appropriate action in this matter. At this time, the employee is no longer coaching at Villa Rica High School.
Current Assistant Boys’ Basketball Coach Joseph Williams will serve as the Interim Head Boys’ Basketball Coach for the remainder of the season.”
The civil suit alleging wrongdoing by the district was e-filed in the office of the Carroll County Clerk at 5:08pm Wednesday 4/19/23.
The suit alleges:
- During his tenure as a coach and teacher, Plaintiff has never received any negative evaluations from his peers, players, or students.
- On or about January 12, 2023, Defendant supposedly received an accusation that Plaintiff “smelled like marijuana” or that he had “used marijuana at school or on school property.”
- The accusations that Defendant received were false.
- Plaintiff agreed to submit to a urine drug screen in accordance with Defendant’s written policies and procedures but, at the time set, was not able to provide a sufficient sample.
- Because Plaintiff was not able to provide a sufficient sample of the urine drug screen, Defendant deemed that Plaintiff has refused to comply with Defendant’s drug testing policy.
- Defendant refused to provide Plaintiff the opportunity to provide a sufficient sample and, instead, confiscated Plaintiff’s keys and instructed him to have no further contact with the Villa Rica High School basketball team.
- The policy and procedure of Defendant, requires an employer, such as Defendant to provide an employee the opportunity to drink up to forty (40) ounces of fluid, reasonably distributed through a period of up to three (3) hours or until the employee provides a sufficient sample.
- Defendant, when demanding Plaintiff submit to a urine drug screen on January 12, 2023, did not a) provide Plaintiff with the opportunity to drink up to forty (40) ounces of fluid; or b) allow him up to three (3) hours to provide a sufficient sample.
- Defendant, in failing to provide Plaintiff with up to forty (40) ounces of fluid and up to three (3) hours to provide the sample, violated its own policies and procedures.
- The statements contained in in Defendant’s press release that it had engaged in a “rigorous process to conduct a thorough investigation” were false.
- Since Defendant’s publication of the false and defamatory statements regarding Plaintiff, he has applied for at least six (6) other coaching/teaching positions (for which he was qualified) without any response whatsoever from the potential employers.
Mitchell’s suit requests judgment m his favor against Defendant as follows:
(a) For special and compensatory damages for past, lost or diminished income; and other expenses;
(b) For general damages for past, present and future psychological and emotional injuries and pain and suffering to be awarded in accordance with the enlightened conscience of impartial jurors at trial;
(c) For punitive damages in an amount to punish this Defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct in the future;
(d) For attorney’s fees and expenses;
(e) For trial by jury; and
(f) For such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.
The district is expected to answer to the complaint within 30 days after service of this summons. Failing to do so could lead to judgment by default for the relief demanded in the complaint.