Court records show that former Pine Bluff High School employee, Lakecha Bradley, has filed a lawsuit claiming damages incurred after being fired from her job. The lawsuit, which names Pine Bluff High School principal, Michael Nellums, superintendent Jeremy Owoh and the district, was filed on Jan. 20.
“Owoh’s and Nellums’ actions have been intentional, willful, reckless and (a) malicious violation of plaintiff’s rights, meriting an award of punitive damages against them in their individual capacities.”
According to court documents, as an employee in the central office, Bradley was a victim of sexual harassment. Bradley alleges that Nellums began harassing her during the 2015-2016 school year.
“He would come into her office and make comments about her body parts and claiming that she was looking at him in a sexual way. When she went to her children’s games at schools… he would try to hold her hand and touch her. He would come in her office and touch her hair and talk about it.”
The six-page document goes on to say that Nellums went into Bradley’s office to “unzip his pants and expose himself to her” adding that “he would shut the door to her office” as part of the act.
“When school started in the fall of 2018, Nellums started giving plaintiff ultimatums. If she had a problem at his school, she could come to his house and they could work them out. This meant engage in sexual activities.”
As the APSCN coordinator, Bradley had access to enter data such as grades into the school’s system. Her daughter, a student at the high school, allegedly received a “N/C” (no credit) for her physical education course due to excessive absences. Upon learning her daughter’s grade, Bradley changed her daughter’s grade back to its original score of 86 prior to the “N/C.”
“Plaintiff told (Eric) Mayfield that she was replacing the “I” with the original 86 and to have Nellums call her, because she was going to Dr. Owoh and Ms. Hadley.”
In addition to the sexual harassment allegations, Bradley suggests she was fired for not having sex with Nellums and insists she would still be employed had she done so to “resolve her daughter’s grade.”
“The District is aware of the lawsuit filed against Dr. Nellums and the district, which was the first time the district administrative team ever received any notice of the allegations contained in the lawsuit,” said Pine Bluff School District superintendent Jeremy Owoh in an email to The Commercial. “The district is taking prompt remedial measures to address the issues raised in the lawsuit. Dr. Nellums has been placed on administrative leave pending the ongoing investigation. As this matter is both a personnel issue and involves student privacy rights, the district cannot give further comment.”
On Jan. 21, Nellums filed a countersuit disputing Bradley’s claims of sexual harassment while stating she sexually harassed him.
“In the instant case, Bradley told multiple people that Nellums sexually harassed her. When in fact, she was sexually aggressive towards him and would call in the morning to inquire about his daily plans.”
Nellums also alleges that due to her role in the central office, he believes she changed multiple grades including one student who graduated with honors.
“After further investigation, it was discovered that Bradley changed another student’s grade to move up her class ranking and thereby become an honor graduate. Being an honor graduate with a higher GPA would increase the likelihood that this student would receive higher financial award(s) from a college or university. However, falsifying academic achievement allows one student to move up in class rank and denies other students the opportunity to become honor graduates.”
Back in 2018, The Commercial reported on a lawsuit involving Nellums and a former employee that was settled for $50,000 and reinstatement of the employee’s job. Celeste Alexander, who was let go from the district in 2015 as part of a reduction in force effort, alleged that she was sexually harassed and discriminated against by then-PBHS principal Michael Nellums.
In response, Nellums filed a lawsuit alleging libel, slander and defamation against Loretta Alexander and Celeste Alexander. A motion hearing is set for Feb. 11. The Pine Bluff Commercial reached out to Nellums for comment, but did not receive a response by press time.
Per court records, Bradley hopes to be awarded for her physical suffering as a result of her firing.
“…Plaintiff prays that the court award back pay and front pay or reinstatement, compensatory and punitive damages in an amount exceeding that required for diversity jurisdiction, reasonable fees and costs, removal of negative materials from her file, designation as re-hirable, a positive reference, training, an 800#, pre-judgment interest, for a jury trial on all matters so triable (sic) and all other appropriate relief.”