MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The mother of a former Mount Pleasant High School student is suing the Maury County Board of Education after her son died from a motorcycle crash that occurred on the school’s campus.
Early this year, on Jan. 26, 17-year-old Josiah Fisher was killed while test-driving a homemade motorcycle during his Agriscience class at Mount Pleasant High School.
The lawsuit states that prior to the deadly crash, three staff members witnessed the homemade motorcycle being driven without a helmet or supervision, which allowed the dangerous activity to continue.
“The culture at that school is designed so that the teachers at the school aren’t perceiving this as something they should intervene with,” said Shannon Wiggins, one of the family’s lawyers. “The original statement surrounding this by the school did not disclose fully that this was something going on during class. Josiah was right outside the classroom door and so was the other student.”
Before getting on the motorcycle, the suit claims, Fisher expressed that he did not know how to drive and did not have a driver’s license or permit.
After seeing another student ride the motorcycle several times, Fisher attempted to drive it without a helmet. Due to having no previous driving experience, Fisher drove the motorcycle into a brick wall and was later pronounced dead.
Attorneys with Hughes & Coleman Law Firm say Fisher had autism and other learning disabilities and was a part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) at the high school. Due to his disabilities, the suit states Fisher was required to be under diligent supervision by school staff at all times.
“We believe it was preventable, not with hindsight, but with common sense, just doing their job along the way, and had they done their job, Josiah would be alive,” said Lee Coleman.
The lawsuit says the homemade motorcycle was being built by a student for a school project with the permission of the Agriscience teacher, Tony Grooms.
In the suit, attorneys claim Grooms had a practice of letting the student bring motorized vehicles that did not operate to class and allowed students to fix them with spare parts and alter the factory-set speeds.
In the complaint, Fisher’s mother, Renee Hawkins, states the Maury County Board of Education had knowledge that staff allowed minors to ride homemade motorized vehicles on campus without helmets or supervision.
“Her hope is to develop a platform where neurodivergent children can be safe in school. I mean that’s a real simple ask and that’s all she wanted, and she didn’t get that for Josiah,” said Wiggins, describing Josiah’s mother’s goal with the lawsuit. “Josiah died on their campus. They claimed that they were doing an investigation, I don’t even know who wrote the notes and they’re not even using first names in the notes. There’s a problem with that.”
Hawkins is seeking $3 million in damages from the Maury County Board of Education as a result of her son’s death.
News 2 has reached out to the Maury County Board of Education, and they did not want to comment.
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This is a developing story. WKRN News 2 will continue to update this article as new information becomes available.