Case against O'Fallon school district and former music teacher in court Nov. 4

Ann Maher Oct. 20, 2011, 5:00am



A case management conference is scheduled Nov. 4 in a lawsuit against a former high school music teacher and O'Fallon School District 203.

Plaintiff Jane Doe claims former teacher Matthew Lang had an inappropriate relationship with her teenage daughter when she attended high school in Alton. Doe claims the O'Fallon school district and its teachers union concealed information about Lang's prior inappropriate relationships with students when Alton school officials sought information about him during an employment search.

Doe's original complaint named Lang as well as Alton school officials. She later dropped the Alton defendants and amended the complaint to include the O'Fallon defendants.

The O'Fallon Federation of Teachers has already settled with Doe for an undisclosed sum.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis, who presides over the case, approved that settlement in April.

Trial is scheduled to begin in May 2012 with discovery set to wrap up in the early part of next year.

On Sept. 28, the O'Fallon school district filed a motion for protective order asking that its superintendent Darcy Benway be allowed to attend a deposition of Lang.

Lang pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with his involvement with Doe's daughter. He is incarcerated at Big Muddy Correctional Facility in Ina.

At a deposition scheduled in March at Big Muddy, Lang refused to testify without assistance of counsel. The record shows that Lang does not have representation in the case.

Another deposition was scheduled July 11, for which Benway was authorized by the correctional facility to attend.

But according to O'Fallon's motion for protective order, Big Muddy later revoked its authorization for Benway to attend and the deposition was canceled.

"Equitable principles and custom dictate that a party must be allowed to attend a deposition in a civil matter," the motion states. "This is particularly so when the deposition is of a co-defendant."

As of Oct. 20, Callis had not ruled on the school district's motion.

The O'Fallon school district denies the plaintiff's claims and has tried without success to have the suit moved to St. Clair County.

Thomas O. Falb of Williamson, Webster, Falb & Glisson represents Doe.

James Craney and David P. Bub of Brown & James in St. Louis represents the O'Fallon District.

Doe seeks damages in excess of $50,000 and other relief.

Madison County case number 09-L-886.

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