JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Duval County School Board is facing a lawsuit by a parent who says their daughter was sexually assaulted by a fellow student inside a Jacksonville high school.
The suit states that the incident happened at Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology on Feb. 3. Based on Florida law, Mitch Stone, the 14-year-old student’s lawyer, said government agencies are to be given six months to investigate a claim and work on a resolution.
Stone said nothing happened, so the family filed a lawsuit.
“I was shocked that nothing had been done to help them with victim services so that this girl could get counseling,” Stone told News4Jax.
The teenager’s parents filed the suit, saying staff and security didn’t do enough to protect their daughter, saying she was assaulted in an empty classroom.
Stone said when the family turned to him for help that he tried several times to discuss what happened with the school district, but received no response.
Stone summarizes the allegations in an “intent to file” notice he first sent to the city of Jacksonville back in May.
It states that a substitute teacher at the high school released the 14-year-old and her classmates 10 minutes early from class on Feb. 3 and that she and some other girls went into an unlocked classroom to talk and wait for the final bell.
The suit continues, “Some male students also entered the classroom briefly but then left. When the final bell rang the girls began to exit the classroom. (The teenager) was the last child leaving the classroom when a male student stood at the door blocking her way so she could not leave. He then moved her back into the classroom and closed the door.” It goes on to state that was where the assault occurred.
“According to the grand jury report, there are dozens and probably hundreds other cases that were neglected, disregarded and ignored,” Stone said, referring to an initial report released this month by a statewide grand jury studying school safety.
That initial report accuses the Duval County School District of underreporting crimes and gang activity happening inside its schools.
News4Jax requested comment from the Duval County School Board. Dr. Tracy Pierce, the director of communications, said the board won’t comment on pending litigation or about the grand jury report until it’s complete.