Texas school district didn’t investigate special ed student’s sexual assault, lawsuit says

A federal lawsuit claims a Texas school district failed to investigate the sexual assault of a student with disabilities and to protect him from further abuse.

Filed on behalf of a male student identified as J.G., the lawsuit alleges Bryan Independent School District failed to provide him with a safe education environment and discriminated against him as a student with a disability.

School district spokesman Brandon V. Webb said by email that Bryan ISD did investigate the claim of sexual assault but found it to be false.

“We take all matters of student safety seriously and fully investigate any allegation of harm to a child,” he said. “District Administration, Special Education, Human Resources, Legal Counsel and the State of Texas’ Child Protective Services all looked very carefully at the alleged situation, and as mentioned, each entity cooperated in a full investigation.”

According to court records, one of J.G.’s fellow students at Ben Milam Elementary School assaulted, sexually assaulted and bullied him, in addition to touching him inappropriately. Another student also bullied and inappropriately touched him. At the time of the incidents, which took place in school bathrooms and classrooms during the spring semester of 2016, J.G. was 6 years old, and the student who sexually assaulted him was 11.

In February of 2016, J.G. began begging to stay home from school and started refusing to use the bathroom without leaving the door open. His mother, who Big If True is not naming to protect the identity of her son, spoke with the school’s principal, Hugo Ibarra, and vice principal, Jennifer Pope, about her concerns for J.G.’s safety. The school’s staff did not investigate the situation or separate J.G. from the students who had bullied and assaulted him, but he received permission to use the nurse’s restroom, which offered greater supervision.

About a month later, J.G.’s mother found teeth marks on his underwear and other signs of abuse, court records claim. He told his mother that an older boy had molested him and “smacked him” on the head, and another boy had touched him inappropriately.

According to the lawsuit, J.G.’s mother visited the principal, Ibarra, the next day to tell him what had happened. She also spoke with the vice principal, Pope, and asked if her son had been using the nurse’s bathroom. Instead, J.G. had been using the general bathrooms, which didn’t provide direct supervision.

J.G., who had also told one of his teachers at one point that the boys were touching him inappropriately, received a transfer to another elementary school.

Court records claim the school district never investigated the incidents as required by district policy and state law, and school officials never questioned J.G. or his teachers about the bullying and sexual assault. The district also didn’t provide related services, including school counseling, a psychological assessment and a one-to-one aide.

“After any one of these events, the school district’s personnel should have given J.G. and his family information and necessary services, as noted above,” the lawsuit said. “However, BISD did not, and J.G. suffered further injury, indignity, and deprivation of educational opportunities because of it.”

Contact Mollie Bryant at 405-990-0988 or bryant@bigiftrue.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Note: This report, originally posted Feb. 7, was updated Jan. 10 to include a statement from Bryan ISD.