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Jury awards $500,000 to Bethel High School special education student who was abused by classmate

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Attorneys for the student are calling this a “landmark” case for upholding the rights of special education college students.

TACOMA, Wash. — A Tacoma jury has decided the Bethel School District failed to defend one in all its most weak college students, in what attorneys are calling a “landmark” case for special education college students.

The jury awarded $500,000 to a special wants student who was the sufferer of sexual abuse from one other student. The sufferer’s attorneys argued the college district ought to have identified in regards to the dangers and achieved extra to provide safety. 

“This is a landmark choice for special education college students,” mentioned Tom Vertetis, one of many attorneys for the student who has solely been recognized by the initials CKM. 

Vertetis mentioned that in 2012, CKM was sexually assaulted and harassed a number of instances by one in all her classmates whereas attending Bethel High School. 

CKM’s attorneys argued the Bethel School District administration knew this might occur, given the perpetrator’s historical past on the Clover Park School District, which included a report of repeated sexual assaults on different college students. But nobody at Bethel High School was warned. 

“They particularly detailed sexual assaults by this student. Unfortunately, nobody in administration truly reviewed these paperwork, and not one of the data was handed down to the frontline academics,” mentioned Loren Cochran, one other lawyer for CKM’s case. 

As a outcome, the attorneys mentioned the insurance policies that require academics to learn a couple of student’s disciplinary historical past have been by no means put in force, which put CKM, who already has issue speaking, at a good higher danger.

Administrators additionally failed to implement the college district’s sexual harassment coverage, which allowed CKM to be abused all through the college 12 months, the attorneys mentioned. 

“What the jury discovered right here, was that our consumer’s constitutional rights to equal safety and due course of have been violated, as a result of the college district admitted, in courtroom, that this coverage did not apply to her, as a result of she was too low cognitively functioning to admire undesirable touching, which is completely shameless. It shocked my conscience, and it clearly shocked the jury’s conscience,” mentioned Vertetis.

CKM’s story is sadly far too widespread for a lot of college students with mental and developmental disabilities. According to the Children’s Psychological Trauma Center, round one in three younger individuals who obtain special education companies have been abused in some style. 

The U.S. Justice Department additionally discovered that from 2011 to 2015, individuals with mental disabilities suffered the very best charges of great violent crimes, which incorporates rape and sexual assault.

CKM’s attorneys mentioned it is essential to ensure college districts aren’t overlooking a few of their most weak college students. 

“Just as a result of CKM could not say no, as a result of her cognitive incapacity didn’t enable her to, doesn’t suggest she should not be afforded any much less safety from a sexually abusing classmate,” mentioned Cochran. 

KING 5 contacted the Bethel School District for a remark relating to the jury’s choice however to this point has not heard again.