California’s school districts have a problem: lax policies and poor enforcement that lead to the sexual abuse of children by teachers, coaches, and other authority figures tasked with providing a safe educational environment. In the nearby Los Angeles Unified School District, hundreds of millions of dollars in civil settlements have been paid out due to the LAUSD’s repeated failures to provide children with the protection they need.
Unfortunately, such issues are present within the San Diego Unified School District, too. If you know or suspect that your child has experienced abuse, it is important to understand your rights. A civil suit can allow you to hold the responsible parties accountable while seeking a settlement from the district or the court.
What do you need to know about this sensitive and challenging issue? At HHJ Trial Attorneys, we understand how upsetting and stressful these experiences are for families. To help you begin taking the first steps towards a resolution after the authorities have become involved, we’ve prepared this short guide.
As recently as 2018, San Diego Unified School District was forced to pay out compensation of more than $2 million to the family of a young man who a teacher sexually abused for nearly a full year in high school. The family was able to win their case in part because SDUSD repeatedly failed to respond to red flags and even clear warnings that abuse was occurring. Expert testimony showed that the district’s anti-abuse policies were not following best practices either.
Understanding why you should consider suing the school district is important. Under California law, virtually every employee working in a school is what is known as a “mandated reporter.” In other words, if someone becomes aware of the physical or sexual abuse of a student (in school or at home), they must report the information to the appropriate authorities. When individuals in your child’s school fail to follow their duty, negligence may be a factor.
If abuse occurs, there may be more than one negligent party beyond the actual abuser who committed the acts. This speaks to the complexity of many school-related abuse cases. Other negligent parties may include:
- The school district as a whole
- Any mandated reporters who became aware of or knew about the abuse but did not report as required
- The school that hired and vetted the abuser
Other factors may determine who you should file suit against, such as whether the act took place off school grounds (i.e., during a school-sponsored event) or occurred because of abuse by another student. Outcomes may vary and are not guaranteed, but clearly establishing responsibility is why you need an attorney.
No child should ever have to feel unsafe or endure abuse in school. When someone’s reprehensible behavior has violated the educational environment, HHJ Trial Attorneys stands up for the rights of victims and aggressively pursues claims on your behalf. If your family has experienced a problem with sexual abuse within a school district, you may not be able to rely on the district or school boards to do the right thing. Instead, learn about how civil litigation can be the path to justice you may wish to take.
For more information or to arrange to see an attorney at your convenience, contact our offices today.