KPLC Investigation: Are your children safe at school?

KPLC Investigation: Are your children safe at school?
(Source: KPLC)
(Source: KPLC)
Lance Lee Duhon. (Source: Louisiana State Police)
Lance Lee Duhon. (Source: Louisiana State Police)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Are children in the Calcasieu Parish school system safe?

That's the question being asked after an investigation showed some educators are not following the rules that were created to keep kids in a safe environment.

In a recently unsealed civil lawsuit obtained by KPLC, the attorney of an 18-year-old claims the Calcasieu Parish School Board purposely placed a known predator around other children.

"There was no negligence about it," Somer Brown said. "They intentionally put a predator in the classroom who did exactly what they knew he had the propensity to do, which is prey on teenage girls."

Brown is talking about Lance Lee Duhon, the 37-year-old former assistant baseball coach at Sam Houston High School, who is facing felony charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile.

"This wasn't a situation where information fell through the cracks," Brown said. "This was actually a situation where the individuals who put him at Sam Houston knew absolutely that he had engaged in wrongful conduct with a student in another school in Calcasieu Parish."

"They put him in a classroom at Sam Houston, where just a few months after he was hired, he once again engaged in felony activities with a student," Brown said.

To fully understand this claim, you have to go back six years, when Duhon was a substitute teacher and assistant coach at Barbe High School.

Court documents show it was then that a different student claimed she received inappropriate text messages from Duhon.

It wasn't until 2008, when he reapplied to work at Barbe, that those allegations made it to administration's ears, prompting an internal investigation.

"Through the investigation, they discovered that this did in fact happen, and the principal at that time refused to hire him back," Brown said.

According to the deposition of Barbe principal Beth Fraser, Duhon admitted to a number of text messages, but Duhon claimed the girl was reading more into them than he intended.

The school never reported the incident to law enforcement, according to the deposition, but Duhon was not rehired at Barbe.

Four years later, Duhon applied to work at Sam Houston.

In her deposition, Fraser testified to telling the principal at Sam Houston her concerns about Duhon.

Fraser took it a step further and notified officials at the school system's central office.

"People at the central office left the principal at Barbe with the impression that they weren't going to hire this individual back, and the next thing she sees is this individual getting arrested," Brown said.

So how was Duhon allowed back into a classroom in the same district?

While the school board won't comment on specific personnel issues, spokeswoman Kirby Smith said this isn't an issue exclusive to the education sector.

"I don't think that's an issue that's specific to education," Smith said. "You can look at any career field, and at the determination of a hirer, if someone has allegations versus having criminal charges, you're looking at two entirely different things.

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