Published July 25, 2007
The parents of a 16-year-old high school student who married her 40-year-old teacher have filed another lawsuit stemming from a union to which they eventually consented, this time accusing the teacher's previous employer of wrongdoing.
The lawsuit, filed by Dennis and Betty Hager, accuses the Guilford County School Board of failing to alert authorities that Brenton Wuchae had inappropriate relationships with female students at Southern Guilford High School. He was transferred to Allen Jay Middle School, "until the high school student he was having a relationship with graduated," the lawsuit said.
Wuchae later began teaching at South Brunswick High School in Brunswick County, about 225 miles south on the South Carolina border. He coached cross-country runner Windy Hager, whom he married the same day he resigned in mid-June. Her parents have said they reluctantly signed consent forms allowing the marriage.
"It is regrettable that sometimes school systems do not have the backbone to take decisive action to protect students from inappropriate behavior on the part of their teachers and coaches," attorney Robert Tatum said of the Guilford County school district.
"Rather than confronting the problem and getting these predators away from our children, they sometimes pass the problem on to other school systems by allowing these teachers to quietly resign."
Terry Grier, the Guilford County school superintendent since 2000, told the Star-News of Wilmington that he had no knowledge of any inappropriate behavior while Wuchae worked in the district. Grier said no one ever came to him with accusations against Wuchae.
Hager's parents also filed a lawsuit against the Brunswick County school district, accusing officials there of failing to adequately investigate Wuchae.
The couple said they brought their concerns to school officials, who have said they found no evidence of any romantic relationship between Wuchae and Windy Hager, though they put limits on Wuchae's contact with the 16-year-old student.
School officials also note that the Hagers allowed Wuchae to give their daughter rides home from school and that he was a family friend for some time.
In early May, more than a month before Wuchae resigned, Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Katie McGee suspended Wuchae with pay after the district said he communicated with Hager at school against the direction of administrators.