Today's hearing on a temporary injunction sought by coach and teacher Jim Adams against Norton School Board has been postponed after the city board's attorney Monday filed to remove the case to federal court.
Adams attorney Richie Kennedy confirmed the filing on Monday. The federal court will now decide whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case, Kennedy said, or remand it back to state court.
The hearing first had been set for next week in Wise County Circuit Court, but all judges recused themselves and Judge Tammy McElyea of Lee County was set to hear the case today in Jonesville.
Adams, Burton High School's long-time head football coach, filed for a temporary injunction at the end of July blocking his paid suspension by the Norton board pending investigation of allegations by former students of sexual harassment.
He noted in a complaint filed last month that football practice began Aug. 1 and the Raiders' first game was Aug. 30. If the suspension continued indefinitely, he argued, the pre-season and much of the season will have been lost.
Adams claims the Norton board's actions have violated his constitutional rights of due process and contractual rights as a teacher with a continuing contract.
The board voted unanimously at a June 10 meeting to renew his coaching contract and, at the same meeting, reassigned him to a teaching position at Norton Elementary and Middle School. At that meeting, two former students made public their sexual harassment accusations against Adams, who has denied them.
On June 24, the complaint says, Adams was notified his employment as teacher and coach was suspended with pay because of the investigation of complaints against him that had been received subsequent to the June 10 meeting.
On July 15, the Norton board named a new head football coach — Jacob Caudill — and a team of assistants in an interim capacity.
In a special called meeting July 22, the board continued Adams' suspension.
Prior to his suspension, Adams was not given notice and opportunity to respond to the proposed action, his complaint says, but instead was allowed a postsuspension appeal from the superintendent's decision to the school board.
The complaint says Superintendent Gina Wohlford stated Adams will not be allowed to coach again before the suspension of his employment as a teacher is lifted. She also said the period of his suspension may continue for more than the 60-day limit the law provides for suspension by the superintendent, according to the complaint. The suspension of his employment as a teacher is indefinite, it also said.