A federal lawsuit was filed Thursday against the North Kansas City School District by the parent of a middle school student who was sexually assaulted by a teacher.
The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City says the teacher, Samuel Waltemath, was hired by the district despite a history of improper relationships with students in other districts where he worked.
After he was hired to teach in North Kansas City in 2011, the suit says reports were made that Waltemath had “inappropriate sexually suggestive and/or nude images” of minor students on his school-issued laptop computer and cellphone.
“Defendants failed to adequately investigate, reprimand or terminate Samuel Waltemath despite reports of illegal images of minors in Samuel Waltemath’s possession,” according to the suit.
Later in 2014, the district allegedly received complaints that Waltemath was violating district policy by having social media contact with students.
In February 2015, the district told Waltemath his contract would not be renewed for the next school year, but he was allowed to remain in his middle school teaching position until the end of May 2015.
The suit says that in April 2015, he began to “groom” a seventh-grade girl “via social media, text message, and cell phone.”
He was suspended by the district on May 1, but during that month, the suit alleges that he sexually assaulted the girl on several occasions.
Clay County prosecutors charged Waltemath in August 2015 with statutory rape of the girl.
After news of the charges became public, the girl was cyberbullied and harassed by other students, according to the suit.
Waltemath, 33, pleaded guilty last November to second-degree statutory sodomy and was sentenced in December to seven years in prison.
The suit is seeking an unspecified amount in actual and punitive damages.
The school district said in a written statement Thursday that it could not comment on pending litigation, but said, “The safety of our students is of utmost importance and we take allegations of inappropriate conduct very seriously.
“The board of education has adopted policies and procedures specifically prohibiting employees from engaging in the type of behavior alleged,” the statement read. “When the district is made aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct by an employee towards students, we take prompt and appropriate action to protect the students we serve.”