A former teacher filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Clark County School District alleging she was retaliated against after reporting that students were allegedly being strip-searched at a middle school campus.
Shushan Sadjadi — who was a math teacher at Garside Junior High School from October 2021 until August — filed a 58-page complaint in District Court against the district and a handful of Garside and district central office administrators.
School district officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
An employee meeting was held in February 2022 at Garside where teachers were encouraged to discuss Black History Month topics with their classes, according to the complaint filed by Sadjadi’s attorney Brian Berman.
They were informed about a significant number of aversive restraint forms submitted to the state, which was requesting corrective action, the documents allege.
“Accordingly, attendees were to have heightened awareness of alleged abuse on campus and report any concerns to the administration immediately,” according to court documents.
One day in February 2022, more than five students were removed from Sadjadi’s first period class without giving her an explanation, the complaint states.
She postponed the math lesson, and her class had a conversation related to Black History Month. Students were so engaged that she had similar conversations with her other classes, according to court documents.
“In most classes, students asked about their right to be searched at school, specifically backpack and locker searches, as well as pat-downs,” the complaint states.
One student asked about strip searches, saying he was strip searched every time he went to the bathroom.
The student required an escort to the bathroom because of prior drug-related issues so Sadjadi initially thought he was referring to a pat-down, according to court documents.
But two female students also said they had been strip searched, court documents state.
The following morning, Sadjadi, wanting to talk about the information she had received, emailed her direct supervisor and school principal.
She invited students who wanted to report anything to administration to come to her desk and share their experiences or provide information anonymously.
More than 18 students reported incidents that day and more than five reported strip searches, according to court documents.
“Sadjadi was struck by the similarities in stories across different grades and classes,” the complaint says.
Male students claimed they were allegedly asked to pull their pants half down, their shirts half up and roll the waistband of their underwear down.
Female students alleged they were told to take their shirts almost entirely off and leave them around their neck and pull their bra away from their body.
Students also alleged searches weren’t always done by adults of the same gender, and one student said she witnessed another student’s strip search.
Sadjadi said she believed she had been presented with enough information to believe it was “of legitimate concern” and that as a mandatory reporter under state law, she was required to report it.
After attempts to contact school administrators, then-Principal Marbella Alfonzo responded and “immediately dismissed the claims as untrue.” She also chastised Sadjadi for having “conducted an investigation” without notifying her, according to court documents.
Alfonzo told Sadjadi that she had been involved in strip searches and that two people at the school conducted the searches.
Following a Las Vegas Review-Journal story in March 2022 that detailed the allegations of strip searches and retaliation, Alfonzo emailed the entire school to alert them about the story and claim that the allegations were unsubstantiated, according to the complaint.
The day after the story was published, Clark County School District police called Sadjadi and apologized for “dropping the ball” with the strip search allegation case and came to interview her.
“CCSD Police found nothing substantiating the claims” and didn’t conduct an investigation, according to court documents.
Sadjadi was later indefinitely assigned to work from home, but was never provided anything in writing.
She was escorted off campus by a campus security monitor “perp walk” style, according to the complaint.
In addition, she received six investigatory notices with 41 allegations from February to May 2022. And in total under Alfonzo, Sadjadi received eight notices with a total of 63 allegations.
Sadjadi tried to transfer schools, but was not contacted for employment because of the information in her personnel file, according to court documents.
Sadjadi, through her Clark County Education Association representative, filed a formal grievance against Alfonzo with the school district.
“To her knowledge that grievance was never addressed in any way at all by CCSD,” according to court documents.
Prior to the incident, Sadjadi had “no write-ups” at Garside or any other job, court documents say.
“Sadjadi had an exemplary record professionally, demonstrating high success rates with student achievement,” court documents state. “She regularly trained teachers and administrators on effective teaching methods at national conferences and at her schools.”