School districts withdraw 'careless,' 'negligent' defenses

The Moraga School District and Lafayette School District have changed legal documents following a backlash over the districts' choices of defense against two lawsuits claiming students suffered sexual abuse at the hands of teachers.

Moraga and Lafayette School District trustees voted Wednesday to withdraw legal language from papers filed in response to a lawsuit brought by Walnut Creek resident Kristen Cunnane. Cunnane is suing the district and three former administrators for negligence and other claims and says her abuse by two Moraga school teachers in the 1990s was the result of administrators ignoring allegations of abuse.

The papers contained a number of defenses including one that said Cunnane "was herself careless and negligent," and that could have contributed to her abuse.

Cunnane also received a formal apology from the Moraga district about the language used in the lawsuit response.

Lafayette school trustees also met Wednesday and voted unanimously to withdraw a similar line of defense in a response to a lawsuit filed by a Jane Doe. The woman is claiming district officials knew former teacher Michael Merrick had abused students but did nothing in response, leading to her own sexual abuse.

Send school news to Jennifer Modenessi at jmodenessi@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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