Keokuk School District sued for negligence in student assault - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Keokuk School District sued for negligence in student assault

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KEOKUK, Ia. (WGEM) -

A Lee County jury has determined Wednesday the Keokuk Community School District was negligent for failing to protect a student from assault in late 2011.

According to the plaintiff's attorney, Curtis Dial, the student arrived to school the morning of Oct. 31, 2011 and told six faculty members that she received a threatening text message from another student. She claimed nothing was done about it, and she was eventually physically assaulted by the student that day.

The trial began Tuesday, Nov. 27 and the jury revealed its verdict Wednesday afternoon. The school district was ordered to pay the plaintiff $2,983.48 for medical bills and court costs.

Dial says the victim was suspended after the incident because of fighting, and that upset the family.

"She called me from the school saying mom you need to come here, I just got beat up. I never received a call from the school at all," said Carrie Steele.

And for many mothers like Carrie Steele, getting that phone call from her 14 year old daughter Alyssa was her worst nightmare.

And Alyssa says she tried to prevent the incident.

"I talked to plenty of teachers and staffs and the principal, I did all the stuff my mom told me to do, and still nothing was done," said Alyssa Steele.

Alyssa says she talked to six faculty members, none of which she says did anything to help, and by third period that day, it was too late.

The threats were carried out. A female classmate beat her, which resulted in a sprained arm and mild concussion.

Curtis Dial the Steele's attorney says it's cases like these that makes the school's responsibility For any child's safety very clear.

"Basically it says that the duty of the school is really that a parent would have in the same situation, which I think it is a pretty high duty," said Curtis Dial.

The school district issued a statement today through their attorney saying "student's safety is a primary concern for the Keokuk Community School District and we view this incident as an isolated and unfortunate occurrence."

"I want to see them like make a difference, influence more on helping students if they come up to them saying that they are being bullied," said Alyssa.

"This was not about money," Dial said. "It was about an upset family making a point."

Steven Ort is the school district's attorney and he says that although he and school officials appreciate the responsibility and effort taken by the jury, the district did not do anything "grossly inappropriate."

"It was simply an oversight," Ort said.

"The (Keokuk) school district considers safety its number one priority," Ort added. "The district does have an active anti-bullying policy, and the jury's assessment will be taken into account."

Calls to Keokuk Superintendent Tim Hood were not returned.

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