A lawsuit filed in Jackson County circuit court earlier this month says the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District mishandled a sexual assault that was reported at one of the middle schools.
According to court documents, a female student identified as Jane Doe was raped in the boys' bathroom off the gymnasium at Bernard Campbell Middle School after school and sports practices on December 1, 2017.
Her family alleges that school administrators did not take the reported sexual assault seriously, with an assistant principal blaming the girl for getting “herself raped.”
Their lawsuit also says the district failed to notify the Division of Family Services and the local police department, and in doing so violated the Missouri Human Rights Act and the Missouri Safe Schools Act. Additionally, it says that the district retaliated against Jane Doe, denying her the opportunity to continue learning Spanish in a different location because the classroom was next to her accused rapist’s locker.
Details of the lawsuit became public on Tuesday, the same day the district’s embattled superintendent, Dennis Carpenter, announced he would resign. Carpenter, the district’s first black superintendent, had pushed for diversity training and an equity plan over the objections of the school board and some white parents.
Jane Doe’s lawsuit, which names Carpenter and other school district employees, says there might have been a racial component to how she was treated.
“Defendant Carpenter revealed this when he threatened that what it looked like to him was that a black boy was being punished but not the white girl,” according to court documents.
In a tweet, Carpenter said the lawsuit had nothing to do with his resignation. A series of closed session school board meetings concerning “personnel matters” began in late June, before the lawsuit was filed.
In an email to KCUR, a spokeswoman said the district disputes many of the allegations in the lawsuit but could not comment further, citing the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, known as FERPA.
“Due to student privacy laws though, the District cannot give its account of what happened in a statement,” the email read in part. “Instead, the district will defend itself and its employees in court.”
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.