A registered sex offender recently settled his lawsuit over a no-trespassing notice that effectively prohibited him from attending Stafford County School Board meetings.
But the public will not be privy to the details of that settlement agreement between plaintiff Melvin Allen and the Stafford School Board.
“I’m happy to tell you that that matter has been very satisfactorily settled,” said attorney Victor Glasberg, who represents Allen. “I’ve also got to tell you that the other side insisted on a confidentiality provision, so I can’t tell you anything other than the fact that the case was settled, and we’re quite pleased with the result.”
Allen was convicted in 2004 of attempting to take indecent liberties with children, according to the Virginia Sex Offender Registry. The lawsuit states that he was sentenced to 30 days in jail because of “activity in an online chatroom.”
Allen received a notice barring him from “School Board-owned property” on May 3, 2016, presumably because he picked up his grandson from Winding Creek Elementary School the previous month, according to the federal lawsuit filed in May. State law prohibits sex offenders from entering a public school during school hours, but the suit claims that Winding Creek employees called Allen to ask him to pick up his grandson because “the boy was ill and … it was an emergency.”
The suit alleged that because the no-trespassing order applied to all school property, it violated Allen’s constitutional right to participate in public meetings by the School Board. He sought unspecified damages.
Judge Claude Hilton signed off on a notice of dismissal Wednesday that simply said the parties had “resolved their differences.” The School Board never filed a response to the complaint.
It’s unclear whether the settlement agreement allows Allen to attend School Board meetings. The School Board will hold its first meeting of September on Tuesday. A Stafford schools spokeswoman declined to comment on the settlement.
According to the lawsuit, Allen picked up his grandson from Winding Creek without incident, but was arrested the following month for attending a School Board meeting in violation of the no-trespassing notice, the suit claims. The complaint calls the notice “overbroad,” stating that Allen never violated state law because the School Board meets in an administrative complex, not a school.
An online background report states that Allen received a misdemeanor trespassing charge and a felony charge of violating a state law prohibiting sex offenders near playgrounds. Both charges were dropped and later expunged from Allen’s record, the suit states.
The lawsuit described the sequence of events that led to Allen’s arrest.
Several days after he picked up his grandson from Winding Creek, Deputy C.R. Burgess called Allen to “gently” remind him of the state law barring sex offenders from schools, but said she did not intend to press charges because the school asked him to come, the suit claimed. Allen subsequently received the no-trespassing notice, which the suit said “effectively punished [him] for having done what he had been expressly requested to do by school officials.”
Allen, who regularly attended School Board meetings as a Stafford NAACP representative, went to a meeting May 24, 2016, to express concern about racial disparities in school discipline, the suit stated. But before he could address the School Board, a deputy asked him to go to a foyer outside of the meeting room.
He entered the foyer and Deputy Burgess “began shouting at him that he could not be at the School Board meeting because he was a sex offender,” the lawsuit alleged. Allen replied that he had a right to be there, but Burgess threatened to arrest him if he did not leave immediately, the suit claimed.
The deputy’s shouting could be heard from the meeting room, according to the suit.
“Deeply humiliated and frustrated, Mr. Allen left the meeting so as not to cause a scene,” it stated.
Burgess, who the suit also listed as a defendant, swore out arrest warrants against Allen several days later. The other defendants included schools security Director Gregory Martin, who signed the no-trespassing order, and Director of Administrative and Legal Service Daryl Nelson.