Salem-Keizer district sues student, his parents for $19,000

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The Salem-Keizer School District is suing a student and his parents for more than $19,000 in property damages.

While attending a volleyball tournament at Crossler Middle School on June 6, 2016, the student and a friend reportedly roamed the hallways looking for unlocked classrooms.

They entered room 106, accessed the supply closet and poured hydrochloric and sulfuric acid, iodine and food coloring across the science classroom, according to the lawsuit filed in Marion County Circuit Court.

The suit claims damages to the floors, desks and computers, with the cost of repairs listed at $19,293.04.

Parents are liable for the student’s actions under ORS 30.765. However, the statute only allows the district to sue the parents up to $7,500.

Lillian Govus, a spokeswoman for the district, said that while parental liability is limited to $7,500, the claim against the student is not capped, possibly leaving the student responsible for $11,793.04.

The student, who was attending Crossler at the time, has a history of destructive behavior, according to the lawsuit. Throughout the 2015-16 school year, the student accumulated over a dozen entries in his disciplinary record. At least two of these directly resulted in calls to his parents.

The lawsuit asserts the parents failed to “exercise reasonable control” over their child. The parents could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The second student is not a defendant in the lawsuit and Govus said “the district only intends to hold those responsible accountable.”

The Statesman Journal typically does not identify minors accused of crimes or misconduct.

Govus confirmed the damage was done outside school hours and when the student was not under the district’s supervision. She said the science classroom was “appropriately secure” and district officials believe the student intentionally caused the vandalism.

The district repaired the damages as efficiently as possible and tried to work with the family to reimburse that cost, Govus said. Only after those efforts failed did they consider litigation.

“The district only intends to hold those responsible accountable, but we will do so professionally and recognizing that this is a family in our community and who we serve,” she said.

A trial date has not been set.

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist

Read more: 140,000 young Oregonians affected as Congress fails to reauthorize health, safety programs | McKay High students beat college teams in tech competition, win nearly $23,000 | Howard Street Charter School needs a new building, leaving South Salem

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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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