Orlando Sentinel | By Lisa Maria Garza | April 28, 2022
The parent of a former kindergarten student at Dream Lake Elementary filed a lawsuit against Orange County Public Schools and accused the district of not immediately reporting an alleged 2019 assault of their daughter by another student, lawyers said on Thursday.
The parent, identified in the complaint as J.Q., said their daughter, K.Q., was lured into a bathroom by the student during “unsupervised time” in a physical education class, then sexually assaulted. The P.E. teacher “refused to listen” when the child tried to report the incident, the complaint said.
OCPS spokesperson Shari Bobinski said in an email “the district has not been served” with the lawsuit.
The girl’s parents didn’t find out about the alleged assault until their daughter mentioned she had been interviewed about the incident at school, according to Morgan & Morgan attorneys Ultima Morgan, Adria Lynn Silva and Ryan C. Rodems, who are representing the family.
Their daughter’s kindergarten teacher heard a rumor about the alleged assault and “posed a general question to the class regarding their knowledge of inappropriate behavior,” which prompted the student to come forward, the complaint said.
The teacher reported the student’s claim to school officials, the complaint said, but local authorities weren’t informed until about a month later.
The girl’s parent said in the complaint that district officials told them “the offending student would not be a threat to [their daughter] again” because the student was removed from the classroom and they would have no interaction on campus.
But the child’s father said in court documents that he witnessed his daughter and the student sitting next to each other at a lunch table.
“These alleged actions created a hostile educational environment following the assault as the plaintiff and offending student were allowed to interact,” the Morgan & Morgan lawyers said in a statement. “Our client was forced to switch schools, hindering their educational opportunities and causing great upheaval in their life. We will hold the school board accountable for its alleged failure to protect its students.”
The girl’s parent is asking an Orange County jury to award them unspecified monetary damages, reimbursement for attorney fees and “any other relief deemed just and appropriate.”