The Issaquah School District denies the claims made in the lawsuit, alleging that they failed to protect students from bullying and harassment. File Photo

The Issaquah School District denies the claims made in the lawsuit, alleging that they failed to protect students from bullying and harassment. File Photo

UPDATED: Issaquah School District denies lawsuit allegations

Formal response filed in King County Superior Court.

On Nov. 29, the Issaquah School District (ISD) submitted a formal answer in court denying all allegations of a lawsuit filed in October by a pair of former students.

The former Skyline High School students launched their lawsuit on Oct. 24 against ISD for allegedly failing to protect them from bullying and harassment after they reported a sexual assault by two star football players. The two students, sisters, are referred to as the survivor and the survivor’s sister in this story to protect their identity.

The lawsuit alleges the school did not protect the two former students, who were minors at the time, from bullying after the survivor reported a sexual assault in 2014. The district denies the allegations.

“The rampant inaccuracy of allegations in the complaint is disappointing, especially given that a significant and extended amount of communication took place with plaintiff’s mother on their behalf that directly contradicts statements made herein and the fact that this lawsuit appears to flow from off-campus events outside the control of the district,” wrote the district’s defense attorney Charles Leitch of Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch.

In October 2014, the survivor was sexually assaulted off campus by her boyfriend and his friend. The assailants, two football players, later pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.

According to the plaintiff’s complaint, the school failed to investigate because the district allegedly didn’t want to risk losing its top players and sacrifice the chances of winning another state championship.

Since the court removal of the assailants, the survivor claims students and staff bullied and harassed her for making the players transfer to a different school. The complaint alleges the district also refused to investigate the abuse she and her sister endured at the school, but instead became “proactive for the football players.”

“In the Answer, the Issaquah School District denies the allegations and affirmatively states that its staff acted quickly and with integrity while following all federal and state laws as well as district procedures. According to the school district’s answer to the complaint, the district and its administrators provided support for (the survivor) and responded to reported behavior from other students,” ISD wrote in a press release.

The “district followed court-issued protective orders against both of (the survivor’s) assailants and took preemptive action to keep the assailants from Skyline High School functions,” the district’s answer said.

ISD said it did not have the authority to remove the assailants from the school as the incident occurred off campus and the conduct was only alleged at the time. ISD deferred any investigation into the off-campus allegations in favor of the police investigation and criminal proceedings.

As for the bullying and harassment that ensued following the removal of the assailants, ISD said it developed a support plan for the survivor and the survivor’s sister while the allegations were pending. Claimed actions included permitting the survivor to park on campus in a visitor spot rather than a spot across the street in order to increase supervision, and responding to negative social media posts by other students — the district warned other students against further posts and threatened discipline, yet the district noted it did not have jurisdiction as the posting occurred outside of school. ISD also claimed the support plan for the sisters included the two students to “have check-ins with the school counselors and staff shadows or escorts between their classes throughout the weekday.”

In the ISD answer to the complaint, it denies all allegations of failing to protect the two students and declares the district followed any and all legal procedures.

Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, the plaintiffs’ attorney, disagreed with the ISD answer to the complaint, noting the district’s contradictions regarding authority and an alleged lack of follow through for a support plan.

“There was no written plan of support for (the survivor) and (the survivor’s sister), and they did not receive any support of what they said,” she said. “The (administration) was only interested if they had hard evidence…and what good does it do to ‘check in’ with a counselor? They weren’t going to do anything.”

The Reporter attempted to contact the attorneys representing ISD but did not receive a response by press deadline.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
Brief history of rats in the Puget Sound region – and the problem they present

Local exterminator noticed big change in rats over the past 40 years.

Sponsor of the motion to establish guidelines for the removal of encampments, Councilmember Reagan Dunn (courtesy of King County Council)
King County Council discusses policy for removal of homeless encampments

Still unclear what the standards will be, who will enforce it, and how jurisdictions will interact.

Design rendering of new development (Courtesy of Runberg Architecture Group)
Vulcan purchases 1.4-acre property in Bellevue next to future light rail station

The real estate developer says the eight-story development will have about 250 units of housing.

Elaine Simons, former foster mother of Jesse Sarey, addresses a crowd outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Aug. 24, 2020, moments after Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson was formally charged with second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the May 31, 2019, shooting death of 26-year-old Sarey in front of a north Auburn convenience store. File photo
Supreme Court rules officers can be compelled to testify about killings

In a joint lawsuit against King County, the Washington State Supreme Court… Continue reading

Stock photo
Face coverings again recommended for indoor public settings

Regardless of vaccination status, says Public Health – Seattle & King County

t
Firearm violence in King County on upward trend

King County prosecutors note a backlog in court cases, point to the pandemic as the reason why.

infographic created by Coltura
Study suggests that the top 10 percent of gasoline-using drivers consume one-third of all the gas

Researchers believe converting “gasoline superusers” is an important factor in meeting climate goals

King County Logo
County property purchased in Bellevue for Eastside supportive and affordable housing

The $186 million project is expected to be finished by 2023.

Watch for the Best of Issaquah nominations to go live on Aug. 2 at https://vote.issaquahreporter.com.
Best of Issaquah is back

Nomination round begins Aug. 2.

Most Read