defending against lawsuit

Parents and staff with the Greenville Independent School District received a letter from Superintendent Demetrus Liggins Monday afternoon, explaining what action the district intends to take in response to a lawsuit filed by two parents against the district about a month ago.

Parents and staff with the Greenville Independent School District received a letter from Superintendent Demetrus Liggins Monday afternoon, explaining what action the district intends to take in response to a lawsuit filed by two parents against the district about a month ago.

In the complaint, the parents alleged that some members of GISD staff had “failed to protect their child from repeated sexual abuse by another student.”

The superintendent’s letter began by reiterating that the district denies the allegations, a stance he stated previously in a letter sent out on July 2 – the day after news of the lawsuit broke.

“Greenville ISD denies the allegations in the Plaintiffs’ Complaint and intends to introduce evidence to correct the Plaintiffs’ erroneous representations,” Liggins wrote in his letter Monday. “Greenville ISD’s position is that the incident which gives rise to this lawsuit did not involve sexual abuse, but rather, involved alleged misbehavior of a kindergarten student (the alleged ‘abuser’), which was immediately detected, corrected, and reported by a Greenville ISD employee.”

In the original lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Dallas a month ago, it was alleged that a child attending Katherine G. Johnson STEM Academy was sexually assaulted by another student on campus twice this past school year – once in November and again in March.

The lawsuit also alleges that school officials failed to immediately report the first incident to Child Protective Services as required by law, and that school officials failed to protect the child from the incidents of alleged abuse.

The complaint also states that the GISD Police Department was not informed of the abuse “by any of the GISD mandatory reporters.”

In the superintendent’s letter sent out Monday, he responded to the allegations by saying that it was GISD’s position that the "plaintiffs lack standing" to pursue a court order “because the student on whose behalf the suit is being filed is in no real, immediate threat of future injury.”

The letter also argued that “sufficient facts” had not been given in the lawsuit to claim that the parents’ or their child’s rights had been violated, that the district had failed to train employees correctly, that there had not been adequate supervision, or that there had been any gender discrimination.

The statement went on to explain that the case was still in its very early stages.

“At this stage of the case, the Court will simply determine whether the Plaintiffs’ allegations are sufficient; it will not be considering any evidence,” the letter reads. “It could be several months or even a year before we will learn whether the Court dismisses the case.

“If the case is not dismissed, Greenville ISD will present its evidence as the legal process progresses. Greenville ISD is confident that if introduction of evidence becomes necessary, its review by a neutral fact finder will demonstrate that all of the Plaintiffs’ allegations are without merit.”

Liggins ended the letter promising that the district “will continue to provide training to all staff on safety procedures and protocols," and that staff would "continue to follow those processes.” He also provided a link where those policies can be reviewed: bit.ly/32VAD8p.

Travis Hairgrove is a news reporter and features writer at the Herald-Banner and covers city government for many municipalities in Hunt County. To reach him outside of business hours, email THairgroveReporter@gmail.com.

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