Fired Knox County Schools security officers file lawsuit, claiming retaliation

Knox County Schools

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Four former Knox County Schools security officers have filed suit against the school board, sheriff’s office and county government saying they were wrongfully terminated.

Davey Sanderson, Douglas Ryerkerk, Daniel Stewart and William Kee claim they were retaliated against by Chief of Security Gus Paidousis, aided by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

Ryerkerk, Stewart and Kee in December 2015 filed complaints against Paidousis alleging he violated school board policy and federal law. The officers said Paidousis used profanity in the presence of employees, made threats of violence against the school system’s Deputy Law Director Susan Crabtree, racist and sexist comments against former and current employees and even expressed the desire to kill a former security officer who had embarrassed him.

Previous story: Investigators who filed complaint about Knox County Schools chief of security placed on leave

All three were placed on administrative leave after Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones made the decision to revoke their unrestricted bond cards, which allowed them to carry a gun anywhere in Knox County schools. Jones said at the time the personnel files of Stewart, Ryerkerk and Kee showed acts of misconduct that caused him “great concern.” The three said they were never able to find out what the items in their personnel files were that led to their suspensions.

In the lawsuit, Ryerkerk, Stewart and Kee requested they be granted “whistleblower status,” and that up until their suspension, they were only required to have a Private Protective Services license, or PPS. They claim the policy was changed right after their suspension.

More online: Read the full lawsuit [PDF]

All three were later terminated, according to the lawsuit.

Sanderson, meanwhile, claimed he was demoted and later terminated for filing an EEOC complaint against Paidousis and his deputy, Greg Pinkston. Pinkston had also complained about Paidousis in the past, but according to the lawsuit, was given a promotion when he decided to drop his complaint.

All four defendants are seeking a jury trial for the case. Knox County Schools and Knox County Sheriff’s Office would not comment on pending litigation.

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