The parents of a 15-year-old girl have filed a lawsuit against Central Valley School District alleging the district failed to protect their daughter, then 11, from a teacher who later resigned amid allegations of inappropriate contact with students.
The 18-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, claims the school district and its officials acted with “deliberate indifference” in addressing allegations against the teacher, Anthony Cucinotti.
The district issued both verbal and written warnings to Cucinotti, a former language-arts teacher at Bowdish Middle School.
The lawsuit also alleges Cucinotti engaged in sexual molestation, abuse and/or assault with the girl, who is not named in the lawsuit. The documents claim the district had extensive knowledge of Cucinotti’s actions, yet put students in his classroom. The lawsuit also claims the district has not improved its policies and training practices to better protect students from abuse.
Also named in the suit are current and former administrators Dave Bouge, Lise Louer, Robert Johnson and Superintendent Ben Small. The lawsuit does not specify what damages are sought.
Central Valley School District spokeswoman Melanie Rose said it is the district’s policy not to comment on legal matters before the court.
The lawsuit alleges Cucinotti read inappropriate material in his classroom, was seen looking down the shirts of female students, snapped a girl’s bra strap and rubbed a girl inappropriately.
Cucinotti began teaching in the district in 1992 and received his first written warning from administrators in Nov. 1993, when a sixth-grade student reported Cucinotti had hit him. He was the subject of several more complaints before his resignation in 2009.
Spokane attorney Richard Eymann is representing the student and her parents.
“It’s hard to understand how a school district can slap somebody’s hand so many times,” Eymann said. He added the girl is doing “as well as she can,” and believes there are more victims. He said he’s hoping anyone with information will step forward.
Eymann said Cucinotti has left the state and attempts to track him down have been unsuccessful.