The Overton County Board of Education met in a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night and a statement was provided concerning the employment status of Mark Lee after nearly a four-month investigation by the system.
As previously reported in the Livingston Enterprise, Livingston Academy teacher Mark Lee was placed on a 90-day suspension after sexual harassment allegations surfaced in early March.
Upon the allegations surfacing, 13th Judicial District Attorney Bryant Dunaway requested a formal criminal investigation to be conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) due to the nature of the allegations—despite the school system’s failure to report them directly to his office or law enforcement.
The investigation revealed that other students had similar experiences and there is a history of misconduct; however due to no physical evidence, criminal charges could not be pursued.
Dunaway’s closure of the case reported that he found it concerning that no formal complaints, present and past, had been made to any law enforcement whatsoever after being reported within the system.
Following the closure of Dunaway’s investigation, Director of Schools Dr. Mark Winningham implied the investigation was still continuing within the school system, and as previously reported in the Livingston Enterprise, he stated, “Although the criminal investigation has ceased, we’re still looking into the matter. This is not something we are taking lightly.”
Despite Winningham’s statement, it was announced last Tuesday at the Overton County Board of Education meeting that Lee will remain within the school system as teacher; however, he will be removed from his post at Livingston Academy.
“He has been removed as a teacher from Livingston Academy effective immediately and subject to assignment within the school system by the Director of Schools,” Winningham said last Tuesday at the meeting.
Following his statement, the board allowed five minutes for a victim’s mother, Carol Ann Rudd, to speak.
“My daughter is Elizabeth Ann Rudd. Elizabeth was sexually harassed repeatedly at Livingston Academy by her teacher Mark Lee,” Rudd said. “In an effort to protect future students from sexual harassment by this teacher, Elizabeth Ann chose to tell her heartbreaking story.”
Her statement went on to add that Elizabeth Ann is not the first student to be sexually harassed by Lee and that documentation exists implicating him of similar past behavior.
“As a concerned parent, I come here tonight to ask what is being done to prevent this from happening to other students in the future and to ask why has this happened to my child?” she asked.
She tearfully begged for the board to remove him from the school system.
“I beg you as a mother, please do the right thing and remove him from the school system to keep our children safe,” she finished.
For more on this story, pickup a copy of next week’s Livingston Enterprise.