Previous Knox school gatekeeper declares he was fired for having a black wife


A former Knox County Schools security officer competes in a lawsuit that he was wrongfully ended because his boss took umbrage that he was wed to a black woman.


Lawyer James A.H. Bell last week submitted a suit in Knox County Circuit Court on behalf of John Smelser against the Knox County school board and Knox County federal government over his termination in May 2015. The suit alleges Gus Paidousis, chief of school security, fired Smelser, who is white, after learning Smelser was wed to a black woman with whom he had 2 children.

The lawsuit looks for $250,000 in offsetting damages and a “mandatory order requiring defendants to follow the laws that prohibit race discrimination and buying the proper staff members associated with the acts of race discrimination to get proper training.”


Knox County Schools spokeswoman Melissa Tindell did not have instant remark but stated she was contacting authorities on a reaction.


Smelser was hired in September 2014 and designated to work security at Shannondale Elementary School. According to court records, Smelser also helped train police cadets.


In April 2015, Smelser was charged with domestic assault in connection with an occurrence at his home involving his stepdaughter’s boyfriend, the suit mentioned. Smelser was off duty however positioned on paid leave from his job pending the outcome of the case. When Smelser returned to work, the lawsuit alleged Paidousis “declined to speak to” him.

p1” Thereafter, the complainant was advised by a number of monitoring policeman’s used by the defendants that Chief Paidousis had admitted to them that the reason (Smelser) was ended was because he had a black better half and his children were black,” the claim specified. “(Smelser) declares that he was terminated due to being wed to an African-American and that he had ‘black’ children. The failure to provide a reason by the offenders for (Smelser’s) termination is a cover-up for outright race discrimination.”


Paidousis, a previous Knoxville Police Department officer, was hired in May 2013 after the News Sentinel exposed his predecessor’s ties to a personal security system setup firm implicated by the Public Building Authority of inferior operate in two schools over which the PBA supervise building.


Paidousis came under fire in December after 3 school security captains all with previous law enforcement experience lodged a complaint versus him, alleging he made racist remarks about Smelser’s interracial marriage, sexually bugged a female worker, showed an explosive anger that cultivated fear among those on the force, retaliated versus uncooperative workers and intimidated grumbling employees by having actually surveillance gadgets set up and trained on their work stations. Another gatekeeper already had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declaring favoritism in working with.


Constable Jimmy “J.J.” Jones withdrawed the 3 captains’ bonds after the News Sentinel reported on the trio’s whistle-blowing problem. That move avoided the captains, Dan Stewart, Doug Ryerkerk and Bill Kee, from serving as gatekeeper. They were put on paid leave pending a school system probe of their complaint.


According to their worker’s files, the three captains received no corrective actions before Paidousis was worked with.


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