A former Spanaway Lake High School student is suing the Bethel School District over a stabbing incident that occurred at a school in May 2010.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Pierce County Superior Court, stems from an attack that occurred during band class. Joshua Ray Shirley, then 18, was arrested and charged with assault for stabbing fellow student George Lukas Thompson, who also was 18 when the attack occurred.
The two students were among the more than 1,000 high school students from Spanaway Lake who were attending classes at Liberty Junior High while the high school was renovated.
Thompson spent two days in the hospital after being stabbed in the head and neck in what Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies called an unprovoked attack. Shirley is currently in prison. The lawsuit also names Shirley as a defendant.
Krista Carlson, spokeswoman for the School District, said Tuesday that district officials are in the process of reviewing the lawsuit. She said the district had no immediate comment.
The lawsuit says the district was at fault for several reasons, and says it was negligent because it failed to maintain a safe school environment. It notes that the school did not have metal detectors.
According to the lawsuit, Shirley had been subjected to bullying “for months prior to the stabbing” from other students – not Thompson – and school authorities failed to intervene. It says Shirley had talked about wanting to stab someone prior to the incident.
The lawsuit also alleges that Shirley arrived at the Bethel District and Spanaway Lake with a history of behavioral issues at another school, and should have been given “appropriate programming and placement.”
The lawsuit says that prior to the stabbing, Thompson had a 3.4 grade point average, was active in sports and band, and had hoped to join the Air Force and become a police officer. But as a result of the attack, he has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems, according to court documents.
He is seeking damages to cover, among other items, the cost of medical care and counseling, as well as compensation for physical and mental pain.
Debbie Cafazzo: 253-597-8635