Two families are suing Tacoma Public Schools, alleging a lack of supervision of kindergartners resulted in inappropriate sexual contact among four students at Geiger Montessori School.
According to the complaints, filed Monday in Pierce County Superior Court, both families say their sons suffered potentially permanent psychological injuries as a result of the January 2014 incident.
An earlier claim for $250,000 in damages filed with the school district also alleged the children suffered physical harm.
School district spokesman Dan Voelpel said he could not speak to details of the allegations or the legal position of the district. He said the district’s official legal reply was being prepared, and will contain more detail.
The lawsuit identifies the children of the families only by initials. The News Tribune is not identifying the students or their families because of the nature of the allegations.
According to the complaint, four kindergarten students were sent out of their classroom for “peace time.” They were directed into an enclosed area between two classrooms and told to work out a playtime dispute that had erupted within the group, said Daniel Hannula, attorney for the families.
The complaint alleges that while the kids were left unsupervised, they engaged in “inappropriate conduct, including the removal of clothes and sexual contact.”
It said the school district violated its duty when school staff members failed to adequately supervise and monitor the students.
A lawsuit alleges kids engaged in ‘inappropriate conduct, including the removal of clothes and sexual contact.’
Hannula said placing four kindergarten students into a time-out situation without supervision “makes no sense.”
Voelpel said that as soon as district administrators learned about the incident and heard allegations about lack of supervision, they acted.
They initiated disciplinary proceedings against the students’ teacher, who resigned during the process.
The school district also notified state Children’s Protective Services and Tacoma police about the incident.
“We emphasize safety of our students as our highest priority,” Voelpel said.