The Chicago Public Schools have been inundated with complaints and allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse in its educational institutions. One particular school, Lincoln Park High School, has been the subject of a series of allegations that have resulted in numerous school personnel being suspended or fired. Now, CPS has been sued by the family of a student who alleges that the school did not do enough to prevent a sexual assault that she experienced at the school in January 2020.
Schools have an obligation to protect their students from all types of sexual abuse and assaults. They must provide adequate security in order to keep the students safe from outside intruders seeking to harm the students in school as well as from people within the four walls of the school. This includes both their fellow students as well as school employees such as teachers and administrators. Not only must the school have physical security protections in place, but it also must have policies and procedures that are reasonably intended to protect the students.
Even though school systems are governmental entities, they can still be defendants in lawsuits, albeit with slightly different rules governing the lawsuits. Governmental entities are accountable civilly for their failure to protect children from sexual abuse just the same as any other private entity. Parents of schoolchildren who are the victims of sexual abuse can file a sexual abuse lawsuit against the school.
In this particular lawsuit, the alleged assailant was also a student at the school. He was also the subject of previous sex abuse allegations that the father of the victim claims that the school did not adequately investigate. The alleged assailant was an athlete at the school and the lawsuit claims that he left practice and met the girl in an unlocked classroom where she was studying. The lawsuit alleges that the male student then proceeded to assault the female student. As of now, no charges have been filed against the male student and the investigation was closed by the police without any charges being filed although the Chicago Public Schools are still investigated the alleged incident.
The lawsuit alleges that the school officials were negligent in their failure to provide adequate security for students inside the school. The complaint also claims that the school did not have adequate policies and procedures that would be intended to protect the students. According to the plaintiff, the school failed to adequately investigate past allegations of battery that would have protected the victim had the school taken action. The family of the girl is seeking $50,000 in damages.
This is far from the first incident for Lincoln Park High School. The school has been awash in allegations of abuse. Parents have complained about the lack of security in the school and the fact that there is no expectation that their children will be protected when they drop them off at the building.
There has been much upheaval at the school as key administrators have been dismissed from their positions. The school’s interim principal, assistant principal and a dean have all been dismissed although the school has kept any allegations of wrongdoing against those people private. Meanwhile, these administrators have sued the school district for defamation, loss of due process and infliction of emotional distress.
In addition, the school’s basketball coach was also dismissed. There was an incident on a team trip that involved sexual misconduct and social media that led to the coach’s firing. Although the coach was not directly involved in the incident, there have been questions raised about his knowledge of the incident and a lack of supervision on the team trip. The school suspended the basketball team’s season as there were allegations that a girl was raped on the trip. Further, the girls’ basketball coach at the school was also fired for sexual misconduct, and there were allegations made directly against him.
While CPS has made many staff changes and has taken some actions after alleged misconduct, the school has also been tight-lipped about many of the allegations that have been raised. The lack of communication with parents about what is going on at the school has furthered much of the fear and mistrust.
The family’s lawyer has been quoted as saying that he hopes that the lawsuit will encourage the school to review its policies and take steps to protect students in the future. The lawyer has said that the victim is traumatized and is not doing well in the wake of the attack. Meanwhile, chaos still reigns as the school is in disarray and the school district is at the center of controversy.
Parents of schoolchildren who have been attacked and abused at school potentially have a legal cause of action against the school for the failure to protect their children. Contact the Chicago sexual abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers to learn more information about your family’s legal rights.