Mom who claimed son sexually assaulted on playground settles with Pasco School District

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A mother who claimed her son was sexually assaulted twice by fellow students on the playground of a Pasco school has settled with the district for $150,000.

The mother, whose son was 7 and a first-grader at James McGee Elementary School when the alleged assaults occurred, wanted to bring awareness to what can happen on school grounds and the need for increased supervision of students, said Megan L. Chang-Ngaruiya, a Kennewick attorney with Tamaki Law.

School playground supervisors were on duty at the time of both incidents in February 2010 and should have seen the assaults, yet either didn’t notice or did nothing to stop them, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed October 2011 in Franklin County Superior Court, claimed the district was negligent and had failed to implement and enforce policies and procedures to protect the safety of its students.

Defendants typically do not accept liability when personal injury cases are settled.

Spokeswoman Leslee Caul said the Pasco School District couldn’t comment Monday because it had “not received any official kind of notification” of the settlement.

Caul told the Herald when the lawsuit was filed that “the safety of students is of critical concern to the district.”

The first incident occurred Feb. 19, 2010, on the playground during recess, the lawsuit said. The alleged assailant was another student, and other students reportedly watched.

Then, three days later, the child was sexually assaulted and molested by several students during recess, the lawsuit said. Other students saw it happen, but employees of the school district didn’t report seeing it and did not stop it.

The lawsuit names the mother and child by their initials. The Herald does not identify people who report being sexually assaulted.

“The plaintiffs are looking at the (settlement) money as being able to help the minor move forward and help with any future needs he may have with regards to care,” Chang-Ngaruiya told the Herald.

The boy no longer is in the Pasco School District, but still lives in the Tri-Cities, she said.

His mother issued a written statement through Chang-Ngaruiya.

“When I found out about what happened to my son at school, my first concern, aside from the safety of my son, was the safety of all children at school,” the woman said. “In addition to seeking help for my son, I felt it was important to pursue our claims against the Pasco School District to bring awareness to what happened on the playground and hopefully help prevent this from happening to another child.”