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Detroit — A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit filed by a St. Clair County principal who alleges he was forced to resign after giving a wooden penis to a school guard as a parting gift. 

John Stanton, former principal of Anchor Bay High School, sued the district's superintendent, Leonard Woodside, alleging his constitutional rights were violated when he was forced to resign from his job in June 2017 after giving the gift to the woman as she left for another job in the district.

Stanton alleges in the lawsuit the woman had first given him the wooden penis after she confiscated it from a student at the high school.

Woodside alleges the gift was given in front of others, and the woman also cried after receiving it and that she felt sexually harassed by it.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker said Stanton, and his wife, Robin, who also worked at the district, failed to request "name-clearing hearings" after being fired by the district.

"They are precluded from asserting their Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim against Superintendent Woodside," Parker wrote in her opinion. "This is the only claim asserted in the present lawsuit."

Stanton alleges in the lawsuit the woman had first given him the wooden penis after she confiscated it from a student at the high school.

At the end of her employment, "Mr. Stanton returned the wooden penis to her as a parting gift and they shared a final laugh together," Stanton's original lawsuit alleges.

According to a photograph in the court file, Stanton allegedly wrote a message on the gift: "Hope your job isn't too hard! John/ABH"

Woodside's lawyers allege the woman cried after receiving the gift that she says made her "so embarrassed and so uncomfortable."

The woman called a district director of student services to share her feelings and the information was presented to Woodside, according to court records. Stanton admitted to giving the gift and was asked to resign by Woodside, said John Miller, attorney for Woodside.

Stanton declined to go before the Board of Education to discuss the allegations and his resignation, which was his right by law, Miller said. He was given a date to appear and declined, Miller said.

Stanton filed the same lawsuit in St. Clair County Court in 2018, which was dismissed in the fall and refiled the same case in federal court in January.

"We are happy with the court’s decision," Miller said "Two lawsuits were filed against the Superintendent, and both were summarily dismissed because they lacked legal merit. Both courts reached the correct conclusion.”

The Stantons' attorney, Stephen Lovell, was not immediately available for comment Thursday.

Stanton found employment with Livonia Public Schools in August but left after the district learned of the incident and asked him to resign, according to the lawsuit.

Stanton said the allegations against him place a stigma on his wife, who was the principal of Anchor Bay Middle School at the time of the 2017 incident.

Robin resigned in June. The lawsuit says she was unable to return to work due to "the false accusations" against her husband, and she alleges she was stripped of duties in her post.

jchambers@detroitnews.com

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