Carroll County couple sues school board for $250,000

They allege negligence resulted in daughter being sexually attacked

January 28, 2000|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Westminster couple is suing the Carroll County Board of Education, alleging their daughter was sexually attacked in 1998 at Westminster High School after teachers failed to adhere to the special education student's Individual Education Plan that stipulated she should be accompanied at all times.

The civil lawsuit, filed Monday in Carroll County Circuit Court, asks for $250,000 in damages.

The girl, now 19, is not being named because of the nature of the alleged offense. Her parents are not being named to protect her privacy.

According to the lawsuit, the girl's parents and unspecified faculty members, who make up the girl's IEP Team, had agreed that she "would have someone with her at all times."

In February 1998, with the recommendation in place, the girl's mother wrote a letter to school officials "out of concern for [her daughter's] emotional and physical well-being and vulnerability in coping with other students in the hallways," the lawsuit stated.

The mother requested in the letter that teachers not permit the girl to be in the school's hallways without supervision. "We would prefer to have her escorted to classes, thereby alleviating the problems," the mother wrote.

According to the lawsuit, teachers allowed the girl and another special education student, a male, to deliver a classroom attendance report to the school office without supervision April 30, 1998.

During that time, the lawsuit alleged, the other student "sexually molested and assaulted [her] without her consent in the basement" of the school.

The parents contend that the teachers were negligent because they knew about the girl's special needs. The parents said their daughter suffered physical and psychological trauma and that they sustained emotional trauma and medical expenses as a result of the alleged negligence.

A check of court records indicated no criminal charges were filed. School officials also declined to say whether a complaint was made at the time.

"We do not comment on any student discipline matters or on any pending litigation," said Carey Gaddis, a spokeswoman for the county schools.

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