The Bibb County school system wants part of a lawsuit thrown out of federal court, arguing that it had no obligation to protect a special education student from an alleged rape.
In Fridays filing, school system attorneys said the alleged victim had no ability to prove those claims under a federal civil rights statute.
In the 12-page filing, the school system said the girl -- known formally as Jane Doe II -- failed to offer any claims to establish that the School District either deprived Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights or owed them any duty of protection. The school system later said it had no duty to protect the student from assaults by other students.
Police charged seven teens, ages 14 to 18, after an incident in a Northeast High School restroom in January 2012. Prosecutors later dropped the charges, saying they couldnt prove them in court, although they acknowledged that the girl didnt consent to all the sex acts.
Though the criminal case was dropped, the girl and her mother have been pursuing a federal civil case against the school system. One of their attorneys, Brad Wilson of Macon, said the school systems latest filing concerns only a small -- and newer -- portion of the case. Other parts of the case, including a demand for an injunction to protect potential victims, are not affected by the motion to dismiss.
Among the lawsuits claims are that the girl suffered severe emotional distress and mental anguish during the episode. The lawyers are also seeking to amend the lawsuit to claim that the mother is also emotionally suffering as a direct and proximate result of the School Districts wrongful conduct.
In its filing, the school system rejected the familys claims that special education students deserve more protection than regular students. The school system said parents of special education students actually get to make more decisions about how students are handled.
The school system is also attacking the familys claims that the system had a policy or practice of not properly training teachers on student safety. The family says that failure to train violated the familys rights.
The school system said that allegation does not meet a legal standard that says governments violate the rights only when those officials cause harm by engaging in conduct that is arbitrary, or conscience shocking, in a constitutional sense. Even if the family proved its claims, at best it would be able to prove deliberate indifference, the school system argued.
The incident at Northeast High was not the first, the family says. The lawsuit says a female student was raped and sodomized by three male students in a restroom in 2002. In 2008, a 16-year-old female special education student was sexually assaulted by a male student in a computer lab.
In the months after the latest case, the school system received and began addressing a report from Safe Havens International recommending that workers should lock classrooms, science labs and vocational labs when they were not in use. They were also told to monitor hallways, areas outside restrooms, the cafeteria and other common areas.
A judge has not yet ruled on the filings. Attorneys are still gathering evidence in the case.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.