Tuesday, October 28, 2008

TN: Schools, girl's attorney clash over offender's presence at Halls

By J.J. Stambaugh (Contact)
Originally published 06:39 p.m., October 28, 2008
Updated 07:25 p.m., October 28, 2008

See Related Story: School Hit with 3 Million Lawsuit

A Knox County Schools official today denied that a sexual offender’s program operates at Halls High School or any other school, contradicting one allegation included in a $3 million lawsuit filed in connection with the alleged rape a 14-year-old girl on a school bus.

The attorney who filed the lawsuit — Gregory P. Isaacs — said in response that he had never claimed the school system operated such a program but it was unclear precisely what kind of educational or rehabilitation services the alleged perpetrator was receiving at Halls.

School system spokesman Russ Oaks said in an e-mail today that the lawsuit — which was filed in federal court last week — contains “inaccurate irresponsible assertions.”

“For example: The suit alleges that the Knox County Schools System is operating a ‘program at Halls High School designed for students with sexually deviant behavioral issues,’” Oaks said. “This is not true. There is no such program at Halls High School or any other school in the Knox County School System.

“This case was referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies by the Knox County Schools, and it would not be appropriate for us to discuss it further at this time.”

Oaks declined to answer any further questions about the case, citing confidentiality laws. He also declined to discuss special education programming in general terms without reference to the incident described in the lawsuit.

Isaacs said today that his lawsuit never claimed that a program for students with sexual behavioral problems is operating at Halls. The exact wording of the complaint was that the male student was in a program “specifically designed for students with sexually deviant behavioral issues and/or other severe emotional disturbance and or delinquent behavioral issues and was supposed to be ‘under constant and direct supervision.’”

“Without commenting on the pending litigation, it appears that the Knox County Schools spokesperson relied on media reports as opposed to the language contained in Jane Doe’s complaint in issuing a public statement,” Isaacs said.

“The use of the term ‘irresponsible’ is sadly ironic in this situation, based upon the allegations involving Jane Doe who was the victim of a sexual battery assault in an unsupervised school bus while in the care and custody of the Knox County school system.”

More details as they develop online and in Wednesday’s News Sentinel.

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