Parents sue Shik in child sexual harrassment case
HARRISBURG - Parents of a kindergarten student at Priestley Elementary School say its principal and the Shikellamy School District failed to protect their daughter from a fellow student who allegedly groped her.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, the plaintiffs say the male student dropped his pants and exposed himself to their daughter in art class, forced an unwanted kiss in the cafeteria and groped her buttocks in school. In a fourth alleged incident, the male sat next to the female in a class, slipped his hand down her pants and underwear and rubbed her.
Their sexual harassment claim, filed by attorneys Kymberley Best and Timothy Bowers, says the district was deliberately indifferent to the sexual harassment allegations. As a result, their daughter lost time in school, switched classrooms and was embarrassed and humiliated. They seek compensatory and punitive damages and attorneys fees.
The alleged incidents occurred at separate times between December and April.
The lawsuit states the plaintiffs were in contact with teacher Talisha Swanger, principal Dixie Barth and superintendent Patrick Kelley at various times. They say the male continued to express interest in their daughter despite their initial concerns following the exposure, that their daughter was punished following the kiss, and that Barth failed to notify teachers as she said she would to keep the two students separate.
Despite being told the two would not be in class together, they sat next to each other in class in April when the alleged touching occurred, according to the lawsuit. The parents say their daughter was afraid to report it to the teacher. They met with Barth and Swanger the next day, during which Barth said it should never have happened, the lawsuit states, and that Kelley later apologized. A guidance counselor told them he had no knowledge of the previous incidents.
After the touching, the parents kept their children home from school for a week fearing for their safety.