The father of a Metro Nashville public school student filed a lawsuit Monday against the system after his 11-year-old daughter, who is a special education student, was alleged sexually assaulted twice on a school bus last October.
According to the suit filed in Davidson Country Circuit Court, on Oct. 4-5, 2006, the girl, who is autistic, suffered a “prolonged sexual battery by a fellow special needs student while riding home from school on the school bus.”
The incident was recorded on the bus video camera. The driver, Danielle Beach, was suspended following the incident and resigned from the district Oct. 30, 2006.
The girl’s father said the school district has not been responsive to his requests for information regarding the incident and administrators are simply “playing a game” concerning issues of special needs children.
“This is the game they’re playing and they’re hiding behind their bureaucratic jobs to do it no less,” the father said.
According to a statement district spokesman Woody McMillin provided The City Paper, due to the ongoing investigation “the administration of MNPS (Metro Nashville Public Schools) is unable to discuss details or provide additional information at this time”.
“The well-being of children is of paramount importance to us — as it is for any school system,” according to the statement.
Police spokesperson Don Aaron said the police have concluded their investigation and there has been no prosecution of the alleged student offender because of his developmental issues.
Attorney for the family, Gary Blackburn, has watched the video recording from inside the bus and said it was clear the 11-year-old was assaulted and her clothing was in disarray while exiting the bus afterwards.
He is hoping that this lawsuit will encourage the school district to acknowledge a mistake was made and needs to be corrected.
“What we would like would be to have, promptly, a mediation that included the Director of Schools [Pedro Garcia]… and that part of what comes of that is an understanding and acknowledgment by the school board of these needs and a promise to put a plan in place to correct them,” Blackburn said.
The family would also like a response from school board members.
“I wish these folks on the Board of Education would come to us in good faith and discuss ameliorating what is obviously a serious problem not properly being addressed,” Blackburn said.
According to the lawsuit, the family is asking “for a jury to hear and render judgment” in the case.