Big Piney school officials deny sexual abuse

SUBLETTE COUNTY – Big Piney school administrators flatly deny all accusations of sexual abuse and retaliation made by an anonymous former student and her parents in a federal civil rights case filed May 26.

In the lawsuit filed against Sublette County School District No. 9 officials, the former student – identified as “Jane Doe” with her father “James Doe” and her stepmother “Mary Doe” – claims that a teacher paid inappropriate sexual attention to her over several years, sexually assaulted her and ruined her chance for an equal education, it says.

It says that her father went to Big Piney High School Principal Jeff Makelky with his concerns about a history’s teacher’s “illegal” and “improper sexual conduct” toward his daughter and Makelky denied any inappropriate relationship.

The lawsuit also claims James and Mary Doe then spoke to former Superintendent and then-Title IX coordinator Steve Loyd with their concerns and about Makelky’s apparent inaction to remedy the inappropriate relationship. Loyd said he watched the teacher and Jane Doe working out and saw nothing inappropriate, it says.

Then, it continues, Loyd and Makelky – described as “connected to the teacher” in the Sept. 18 amended complaint – did not pursue a proper investigation and retaliated against the Does, denying their federal civil rights.

The suit names SCSD No. 9 Board of Trustees, Loyd, Makelky and John Smiths 1-5. The former Big Piney high school teacher was first identified as a “World History Teacher” or “W.H. Teacher” and “also the son of (high school) principal Jeff Makelky” in the lawsuit.

The teacher is not otherwise identified; John Smiths 1-5 are also not identified.

On behalf of SCSD9, attorney Tracy Copenhaver received the amended complaint filed in Wyoming’s U.S. District Court before Judge Alan B. Johnson.

On Sept. 27, the attorney submitted the defendants’ 25-page response, denying that Jane Doe’s Title IX rights were violated, that she endured a “hostile educational environment” or that she “was sexually assaulted and subjected to sexual abuse and harassment.”

The response also denies officials disregarded the Doe family’s requests for help or “failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the reported assaults and harassment.” Officials also denied failure to properly train about sexual discrimination and sexual harassment.

Loyd and Makelky were “responsible for enforcing (district) policies and procedures regarding employee and teacher discipline, to include … prohibiting and remedying sexual assault and harassment,” it says

It agrees that as Title IX coordinator, Loyd’s “responsibilities include the receiving of verbal and written reports of sexual assault and harassment and the investigation of these reports” as well as disciplining employees, staff and teachers.

They did not create any “informal” unequal policies; the board of trustees is the only one with power to create policies.

However, nothing happened so there was nothing to report, according to the district’s reply.

Big Piney school officials also request a jury trial, as did the Doe family.