A Shawnee Mission middle schooler and her father are suing the district, claiming school officials did not report three sexual assault allegations against a boy who then assaulted her in a classroom.
According to a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court, an eighth grade girl was in a study hall in early 2017 when a male classmate “forcibly put his hands down (her) pants and penetrated her.”
That male classmate at Westridge Middle School in Overland Park had been the subject of three previous sexual assault allegations, but school officials had not reported those to law enforcement, according to the suit.
On Tuesday, Shawnee Mission School District spokesperson Erin Little called the allegations “untrue” and “inaccurate.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“The district has not been served with any legal documents on this inquiry,” Little said in a statement.
“We can say, without reservation, that the investigation determined these allegations have been deemed untrue and inaccurate. The district cannot comment any further, however we look forward to presenting the accurate information at the proper time and place.”
Little did not respond to requests to clarify whether the district had found the three previous allegations against the male student to be untrue or the allegation of assault made by the eighth grader to be untrue.
But the lawsuit suggests that the male classmate was eventually disciplined for the incident involving the eighth grade girl.
The girl was in a study hall classroom when the male alleged perpetrator, who was sitting next to her, put his hands down her pants, the suit alleges.
It was “entirely against her will,” according to the lawsuit. She was “shocked and frightened” and “froze and was unable to immediately react.”
Two teachers were allegedly in the classroom at the time.
According to the suit, school officials were “made aware” of the incident within the next few days.
Former superintendent Jim Hinson, who retired this June, Westridge Middle School Principal Jeremy McDonnell and Westridge Middle School Associate Principal Jade Peters are listed as defendants in the suit.
Also listed: Board President Craig Denny, who represents the area that Westridge Middle School is located in. He was vice president at the time of the alleged assault.
The alleged perpetrator’s school records contained reports from three other female students about similar assaults, according to the suit.
“Defendant district was aware of the three previous sexual assault allegations against the perpetrator, but chose not to report them to law enforcement authorities,” the lawsuit alleges.
In Kansas, school employees are considered mandated reporters, required by law to report the suspected physical or sexual abuse of children.
The legal penalty for failing to report is a class B misdemeanor, which can result in a $1,000 fine or 6 months in jail.
As a result of the incident, the boy was suspended from school for 10 days, but was allowed to count non-school days during spring break toward the period of suspension.
The girl, the victim of the alleged assault, had previously been suspended for an unrelated event and had not been allowed to do that, according to the suit.
The suit does not state whether information about the alleged sexual assault was forwarded to prosecutors.
Reports of sexual abuse at school have emerged in another school district this school year.
Last week, the Lee’s Summit Police Department said it is continuing to investigate a report of sexual abuse inside Lee’s Summit West High School.
In that incident, a male student accused another male student of inappropriately touching him inside a school bathroom.