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CCSD to consider $7M in bullying, sexual misconduct settlements

Updated September 6, 2018 - 7:06 pm

The Clark County School Board is set to vote next week on more than $7 million in legal settlements, payments resulting from two high-profile bullying and sexual misconduct cases involving students.

The district will pay $5 million to two anonymous victims of Jeremiah Mazo, a former music teacher who pleaded guilty to attempted lewdness with children after students at Hayden Elementary School in North Las Vegas told police he molested them. Trustees could also approve $2.05 million for a third person identified as “claimant Doe III” on the meeting agenda.

The payments would be among the largest ever paid by the district over sexual misconduct.

No details of the proposed settlements were included on the board’s agenda, but district spokeswoman Melinda Malone confirmed they were connected to the Mazo case.

If approved, the proposed settlements would end a legal battle for the district that started in 2016, just after Mazo was sentenced up to 60 years in prison.

Prior arrest ignored

Mazo had previously been arrested in 2008 on charges of molesting students at Simmons Elementary School, also in North Las Vegas. A judge, however, dismissed the case, and Mazo resumed teaching.

Parents of two victims filed a class-action lawsuit against the school district and Mazo, claiming the district should have known Mazo was a danger to students.

The lawsuit also claimed the district’s policies at the time failed to discourage teachers from engaging in improper sexual relations with students.

Robert Eglet, the attorney for the parents, could not be reached for comment.

The Mazo case was highlighted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal series Broken Trust, which examined sexual misconduct between students and staff as a systemic issue.

The district has since instituted a policy to educate staff on appropriate relationships with students.

“The Clark County School District appreciates the trust it takes for parents and families to send their students to school every day,” Malone said in a statement. “We take our role in protecting students seriously.”

The settlements are not the first arising from allegations of improper sexual conduct by district staff.

In July, the School Board approved a $190,000 settlement for an unnamed parent and student who sued in 2015 over alleged sexual harassment by a teacher at Foothill High School.

Last year, the district paid $250,000 to settle a 2013 case in which two teachers were accused of intoxicating and raping a 16-year-old student at Basic High School. Charges against the teachers were later dropped, but the allegations sparked the lawsuit.

Bullying case

The School Board could also authorize a $700,000 settlement for Jason and Jennifer Lamberth at its meeting next Thursday.

The couple sued the district in 2014 following the death of their daughter, 13-year-old Hailee Lamberth, who took her own life after facing bullying at White Middle School in Henderson.

The lawsuit alleged that school officials failed to inform the couple about a complaint entered into the district’s bullying website, violating state law and depriving them of their opportunity to help their daughter.

“Hailee’s family received no information regarding the humiliation and suffering she was enduring,” the complaint stated. “Nor did the family have the opportunity to access any counseling or intervention services for Hailee.”

Hailee’s death sparked the creation of Hailee’s Law, which created the Office of Safe and Respectful Learning in the state Department of Education. The office maintains a 24-hour hotline and website for the public to report incidents of bullying.

Jason Lamberth referred requests for comment to his attorney, Dominic Gentile, who declined to comment.

“This is a tragedy, and everyone at the Clark County School District extends our continued support to the Lamberth family,” Malone, the district spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Our community must continue to work together to support our students in crisis, both in the classroom and outside of the school day.”

All settlements include attorney’s fees and costs.

The money for the settlements comes from a combination of district and insurance funds, according to the district.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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