County school board has until March 9 to respond to Sensabaugh suit

Jessica Fuller • Updated Feb 23, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton and the county’s Board of Education have through March 9 to respond to the lawsuit filed by suspended David Crockett High School football coach Gerald Sensabaugh a month ago.

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville last week, both parties agreed through their respective legal counsel to allow the defendants more time to file a response to the complaint.

Last month, Sensabaugh filed a lawsuit against Halliburton and the county Board of Education seeking reinstatement as the high school’s football coach and $5 million.

The suit alleged that Halliburton and the board violated his rights to free speech when they suspended him last fall for issues including his refusal of requests by a principal to remove unapproved photos of students from a social media post in which he criticized the state of Jonesborough Elementary School, accusations that he used abusive language toward students and coaches, and a claim that he practiced an injured player who was not cleared for workouts.

The board opted to put the former Dallas Cowboys safety and Kingsport native on administrative leave through a letter of reprimand dated Oct. 9, 2017, and Sensabaugh followed through on a threat to sue the board a few months later.

Sensabaugh has maintained throughout his suspension and the following suit that his primary concern is for the students at Crockett and in the county.

“I want people to know that I’m trying to fight for their kids and giving them what they need to be successful,” he told the Press when he filed the suit.

Halliburton has not directly commented on the suit, but she has maintained through statements that she and the school board “have no reason to believe that any rights were violated in this case.”

Efforts to contact legal representation for Sensabaugh and Halliburton for comment were unsuccessful Friday. 

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP

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