Seneca Valley defends its actions in ‘Mean Girls’ case
The Seneca Valley School District on Monday defended its handling of two sexual assault complaints brought against a male student by five “mean girls” that later reportedly turned out to be false.
The boy’s parents filed a civil lawsuit against the girls and school district in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh last week.
In a four-paragraph statement released by the Butler County district, school officials defended their actions and said they believe “the lawsuit is without merit.”
“We have followed all applicable laws, and we will vigorously defend ourselves throughout the process,” the district said in response to repeated requests by the Tribune-Review to respond to the lawsuit.
The parents, Michael J. and Alecia Flood of Zelienople, claim their son, only identified as T.F., “was forced to endure multiple court appearances, detention in a juvenile facility, detention at home, the loss of his liberty and other damages until several of the girls reluctantly admitted that their accusations were false” last summer.
The boy is being home-schooled due to the bullying he suffered by classmates following the allegations, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges the boy was further damaged from “gender bias” by school officials and Butler County District Attorney Richard Goldinger’s office, which even after learning the girls’ accusations were false “did not take any action against the females involved,” said attorney Craig Fishman of Pittsburgh, who represents the Floods.
The phrase “Mean Girls,” used in the lawsuit by Fishman, references the 2004 movie of the same name.
The movie details the buds and thorns of the high school experience — deep friendships and happy memories along with painful bullying and gossip that could have a lasting impact.
In the prepared statement released by the district’s media support specialist, Katherine Huttinger, the school district maintained “safety” is its priority.
“The number-one priority of the Seneca Valley School District is the safety and well-being of our students, staff, parents and volunteers who enter our buildings. We have policies and procedures in place to protect individuals, and we communicate to all employees on these policies and work hard every day to provide a safe and caring learning environment for all,” the statement said.
The school district noted it still has not been served with the lawsuit.
“Because this situation involves a lawsuit and ongoing litigation, and also because of federal privacy laws protecting student information, the school district cannot comment further on the details of the lawsuit or the situation,” the statement concluded.
The Floods seek unspecified civil damages against the girls’ parents, the school district and Goldinger’s office.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter @ppeirce_trib.