Emery Unified School District Sued Over Sexual Abuse

The law firm of Cerri, Boskovich & Allard in San Jose announces a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Emery Unified School District over the alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old student by a school security guard.

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County, highlights the failure of Emery High School employees to address the sexual misconduct of security guard Daniel Parham, despite knowledge of his inappropriate sexual behavior with other students. Parham is accused of isolating and assaulting the victim on multiple occasions during the 2023-2024 school year in various locations on school grounds.

This legal action is rooted in the duty of educational institutions to provide a safe environment for students and to prevent harm, especially when there are clear indications of misconduct by staff members that endanger students’ well-being.

An School’s Obligation to Protect Students

Public schools typically have a legal obligation to protect the safety and well-being of their students while they are under the school’s care. This obligation includes providing a safe environment for learning and taking reasonable measures to prevent harm to students. Schools are expected to implement policies and procedures to address various safety concerns, including physical safety, emotional well-being, and protection from bullying or harassment.

This duty of care extends to various aspects of school life, such as ensuring safe premises, supervising students during school hours and activities, addressing instances of bullying or violence, and taking appropriate action to respond to emergencies or threats to student safety.

The duty of care is based on “Parentis loco”, a Latin term that translates to “in the place of a parent.” It refers to a legal concept where someone assumes the responsibilities, duties, and authority typically held by a parent, especially in situations where the actual parent is absent or unable to fulfill those responsibilities. This concept is often invoked in contexts such as education or guardianship, where a teacher, guardian, or other adult may act in the best interest of a child as if they were the child’s parent.

Lawsuit Details

The lawsuit also mentions that the victim expressed concerns about pregnancy following the abuse, and another student had reportedly informed an ECCL employee about Parham’s inappropriate behavior. Parham was subsequently arrested by Alameda Police in November 2023 for statutory rape and assault of the 16-year-old girl on school premises.

Attorney Mark Boskovich emphasized that the assault could have been prevented, pointing out instances where school staff allegedly failed to intervene despite suspicious circumstances. The incident raises concerns about safety protocols and reporting practices at Emery High School, which is situated within the Emeryville Center of Community Life, a collaborative project between the School District and the City of Emeryville.

The Emery Unified School District has a history related to sexual abuse allegations. In 2017, the district faced accusations of violating mandated reporting laws by failing to report two sexual assaults that occurred on campus. This history of mishandling sexual assault allegations raises concerns about the district’s response to such incidents and its commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of students.

This legal action underscores the importance of ensuring a safe and secure environment for students and holding institutions accountable for their responsibilities in safeguarding students from harm.

More on the lawsuit at these media outlets:

American Board of Trial Advocates
The Best Lawyers in America
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The National Trial Lawyers
California Lawyer
Irish Legal 100
Santa Clara County Bar
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National Association of Distinguished Counsel - Top One Percent
Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association
Public Justice Trial Lawyer of The Year
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