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Holding School Districts Accountable in Sex Abuse Cases

Over the years, several school districts enacted “board policies” to bypass the law, which allows child sex abuse victims until the age of 26 to file a lawsuit. The law recognizes that children are sometimes in a better position to file a claim when they reach adulthood. However, many school districts are looking for loopholes to evade responsibility when they fail to protect children from sexual abuse.

Recognizing that school districts were trying to bypass the law, attorney Robert Allard enlisted the help of State Senator Jim Beall. As a result, the state's Legislative Counsel reiterated that school districts must follow the law and may not adopt policies or procedures to deny child sexual abuse victims a right to justice. The Legislative Counsel is a nonpartisan public agency that drafts legislative proposals, prepares legal opinions, and provides other confidential legal services to the Legislature and others.

The legislative intent of the law, CCP § 340.1, provides that child sex abuse victims are exempt from the so-called government claims act. The act states that one must first give written notice within six months of the injury or discovery of the damage before filing an actual lawsuit in a California superior court, giving the governmental agency time to settle the claim. School districts were trying to use this law to override CCP § 340.1. But the Legislative Counsel is firm in stating that school districts “may not adopt a claim presentation procedure with respect to claims for damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse.”

Despite the explicit legislative intent of CCP § 340.1 school districts continue to use the “board policy” loophole to prevent children from seeking justice against those entities who turned a blind eye to their abuse. If you represent a child in a sex abuse case against a public governmental agency, especially a school district, and you are forced to undergo the government claims procedure, give our office a call at 408-289-1417. We can help you. Please do not allow defense attorneys for public school districts to get away with this defense.