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Awards and Associations

Sexual Abuse in Public Schools

Protecting the Rights of Children and Their Guardians

Studies suggest that about 10% of students suffer some from sexual abuse during their school careers. Reports of sexual abuse occurring at public schools in California and throughout the nation are increasing at an alarming rate. As new cases come to light, investigations conducted by law enforcement, the press, and by civil trial lawyers such as those at The Senators Firm, have routinely found dozens or even hundreds of prior acts of sex abuse committed by teachers, aides and other staff that were not investigated, reported or properly dealt with by school administrators.

Dealing with suspected sexual abuse in the public schools is a daunting task, and usually exceeds the abilities of most parents. Law enforcement agencies can be expected to intervene when they are made aware of objective evidence of abuse. Unfortunately, they tend to focus on the criminal aspects of a case, and may not have the time or resources to conduct a full-scale investigation of a school district's abuse history and procedures.

In situations in which multiple children have been abused by a single school employee, prosecutors may focus their resources only on those cases where the evidence meets the strict, "beyond-a-reasonable-doubt" standard. In contrast, civil law firms such as The Senators Firm attempt to look at the big picture to determine why abuse was allowed to occur in the first place. We are focused on addressing each victim's individual needs by obtaining compensation for their unique injuries using techniques and evidentiary standards that are only available in civil courts.

Holding Schools and Districts Liable

Every child is required by the government to receive an education, and the vast majority of American schoolchildren attend public schools. In essence, parents normally have little choice but to put their trust in public school districts whose employees essentially act as "substitute parents" during the school day. This is a tremendous responsibility that carries with it the duty of school administrators to carefully screen and supervise teachers and staff and to maintain an environment where kids are safe from any type of abuse.

In California and most other states, public school districts and administrators may not be directly liable in civil courts for damages caused by the illegal acts of teachers, including sexual abuse. In 2012, however, the California Supreme Court issued an important decision which says that school administrators have a duty to protect students from harm, which includes an obligation to exercise care in hiring, training, supervising, and firing school personnel. The Court said that school administrators who hire known child molesters or who fail to provide adequate training, supervision, or termination when faced with ongoing sexual misconduct can be held liable in a lawsuit for damages brought by victims of abuse.

Our attorneys at The Senators Firm have a wealth of experience investigating and litigating child sexual abuse cases against public school districts and other governmental entities. When dozens of poor minority children were subjected to horrific trauma as the result of sexual abuse at Los Angeles' Miramonte Elementary School, The Senators (Ret.) Firm were among the first to call for an investigation into the failure of the Los Angeles Unified School District to remove and report potential abuse to law enforcement. The firm currently represents more than 30 children abused by several perpetrators at Miramonte. When LAUSD officials failed to turn over documents during the course of early settlement talks, Senator Escutia and the firm took the district to court.

In 2012, Senator Escutia called for a widened probe of all LAUSD schools in the wake of abuse allegations at several other elementary campuses. The firm is actively investigating or litigating cases of public school child sexual abuse at numerous other schools. The consequences of school administration negligence can impact the lives of multiple children, and can affect all aspects of their schooling, personal well being and future.

If you or your child has experienced sexual abuse in a public school or if you have reason to believe such abuse has occurred, do not hesitate to contact The Senators Firm for the compassionate support you deserve and the experience you need to complete your legal journey. Together, we can hold schools responsible for not taking reasonable measures to prevent abuse and hold offenders and their employers liable for the emotional and physical injuries they caused.

Your Legal Rights If you or someone close to you has become a victim of sexual abuse, please contact us to learn more about your legal rights.
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