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Civil Suit Says District Knew About Abuse, Did Not Act

By Charlie Feldman

After a judge denied a motion by the Triad School District for dismissal, a civil lawsuit against the Triad School District has been given a tentative jury trial date of March 2023.

John Doe 10 vs. Board of Education of Triad Community School District 2 et al., will be tried in the East St. Louis district courthouse.

The district faces allegations that it knew about the sexual harassment of a former student and did nothing to stop it. The civil case was filed in January against the District, Triad High School Principal Rodney Winslow, and former Triad Middle School teacher Erin Garwood by a former student, John Doe 10.

He had already filed a criminal suit against Garwood for alleged sexual harassment from the time he was an eighth-grader at Triad Middle School until he  left Triad High School at the end of his junior year to escape  alleged bullying and gossip from other students over that. Triad High School had begun an investigation by that time and the teacher resigned.

In June, Garwood pleaded guilty to harassment through electronic communication. She was sentenced to 12 months of probation, ordered to pay $2,000 to the Madison County Child Advocacy Center as restitution, and undergo sex-offender evaluation and treatment. She is prohibited from having any contact with the victim in the case.

The case was dismissed without prejudice, according to Madison County Courthouse records, with each party to bear his or her own costs. Punitive damages were dropped.

The civil case is on the district level, though, not the county. Doe alleges that the school had actual knowledge and was on notice of Garwood’s conduct, (both in the present case and from prior instances of inappropriate behavior) and that the district did not handle the situation properly and discriminated against him in school activities and education according to Title IX,

Triad argued that they acted as soon as they heard rumors of Doe’s harassment by Garwood.

Questions exist about what the school knew about Garwood and any student and when they learned it.

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