Now 21, the young woman alleged her sixth-grade typing teacher flirted with her and rubbed against her in a sexual manner during one-on-one meetings. Through her attorneys, the woman said the district turned a blind eye to the inappropriate behavior when she reported it in 2005 and left her in class with the offending teacher.
"She made an allegation of sexual impropriety, and it wasn't taken seriously," said attorney Lincoln Beauregard, who is representing the young woman alongside Seattle attorney Damisi Velasquez. "Very little was done, and they left her in the classroom."
Reached for comment, Seattle Schools spokeswoman Teresa Wippel declined to discuss the allegations in detail. Wippel said the woman's claims were investigated earlier this year and ruled "unsubstantiated" by the district.
The teacher in question remains with the district and is currently teaching at the Seattle World School, a 300-student school meant to help children with limited English skills, particularly recent immigrants.
Speaking Thursday, Beauregard said that, beyond the sexualized physical contact, the teacher created what would be considered a sexually hostile environment in the working world.
The teacher started by ogling the then-12-year-old girl, then began teasing her flirtatiously in class, Beauregard said. He then began concocting reasons to meet with her outside the view of other students or staff at Eckstein, a Ravenna neighborhood middle school.
It was during one of those unsupervised meetings that the teacher began rubbing against her to "gratify himself" sexually, Beauregard said.
The girl reported the incident to the school principal, but no action was taken, the attorney said. She was left in the man's classroom for the remainder of the term.
Grading the girl, the teacher described her as "a pleasure to have in class."
Beauregard said the district violated its responsibilities to his client.
"You have to do more than whatever they did here," Beauregard said. "In some way, this thing ended up being minimized."
The woman has been in counseling in an effort to deal with the trauma inflicted on her by her teacher and, through its inaction, the district, Beauregard said.
Wippel said the district "will be aggressively defending this lawsuit."
Filed Nov. 27 in King County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleges the district failed to address a hostile environment faced by the former student. The district has not yet responded to the allegations in court.