Columbia resident sues Howard Board of Education for $1.5 million

A Columbia resident has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against the county's Board of Education and officials at Oakland Mills High School in connection with an incident at a football game where he said one of the team's assistant coaches twice attempted to physically assault him.

Dan Mason filed the suit in September in Howard County Circuit Court with his son Nicholas "Neko" Rynn-Mason, a former football player at the Columbia school. The complaint alleges 10 counts, including defamation, negligence, and assault and battery. The suit has since been moved to U.S. District Court.

Mason said in an interview that the incident occurred during an Oakland Mills game in October of last year. He and other patrons sat in the lower portion of the bleachers behind the Oakland Mills bench and shouted comments about the team's play, according to Mason.

At one point during the game, Oakland Mills assistant coach Brian Henderson got into a verbal altercation with him, and then Henderson charged at him before being restrained by two Oakland Mills officials, according to the lawsuit.

After the game, Mason purchased several boxes of Girl Scout cookies and offered them to patrons leaving the stadium. He said in the interview that he offered Henderson a box as the coach departed the stadium and that Henderson charged at him again, coming close enough to make minor contact before being restrained.

"You would not expect the coach on the sidelines to get into that big of an uproar. That's what's really amazing," said Mason. "I wasn't even that loud. I didn't call his name. It wasn't negative.

"I would say things like 'Is that the best 11 [players] you got out there?' You got to cover that" opposing player, he said.

After the incident, the school system issued a denial-of-access notice against Mason, prohibiting him from Oakland Mills High property until mid-November of last year.

Mason said that in early November of last year, the school suspended his son for five days, accusing him of being intoxicated after one of his classmates commented that he was drunk. His son has since graduated and is attending college.

Officials at Oakland Mills did not respond to requests for comment.

Henderson, who also works at River Hill High School in Clarksville, declined Tuesday to comment on the matter, referring inquiries to the Board of Education. Howard school system spokeswoman Patti Caplan said that the system does not comment on cases in litigation.

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