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Posted on Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Eberwhite principal issues email to parents about school sexual assault lawsuit

By Danielle Arndt

The principal at Eberwhite Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon sent an email to parents, responding to a lawsuit filed against Ann Arbor Public Schools.


Chris Asadian | AnnArborcom

The lawsuit is regarding two alleged incidents of sexual assault that took place at Eberwhite during the 2010-2011 academic year.

The lawsuit accuses the district of violating an 8-year-old girl’s rights by not protecting her from bullying and criminal sexual conduct.

There were four adults assigned to the classroom — one substitute teacher, one student teacher and two teacher assistants — at the time of the second incident, according to the lawsuit.

The teacher also was cited in the lawsuit. It alleges she “did not inquire about what had happened in the bathroom even though the two boys and two girls came out together.” obtained this email as it was sent to parents from current Eberwhite Principal Bill Harris.

Dear Eberwhite Parents and Guardians,

Some of you may have seen the article in pertaining to a lawsuit based on an alleged incident last year at Eberwhite. The district administration takes this situation very seriously. Student safety is our top priority.

While it may be frustrating please understand, on advice of counsel, that neither I, nor the district administration are able to directly address the allegations or lawsuit. I am, however, always available to answer questions about your child or current safety concerns.



Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at


Mrs. S

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

Do any parents know what happened today on the playground? The principal just sent out an email. Was there another sexual assault?

Mrs. S

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

The last principal at this school was AWFUL!! I am glad she is gone. I have had experiences with her and I am sure she knew of this the first time it happened! I am positive she said to keep it hush hush!! The new principal is awesome and I know all of the parents and staff feel the same!! It is a shame that he has to clean up this mess left behind. Sad sad story all around! My heart goes out to the little girl! May God bless you and keep you safe! <3


Thu, Feb 9, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

Eberwhite has a new principal? When did this happen? I thought it was that female one. Not very good mind you, but did her job. Interesting, very interesting.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

The Untold Story : I care for the name and dignity attached to this School Building. This lawsuit does not address the problem of parental responsibility and accountability in the protection of children while they attend School. It appears that parents have no further responsibility the moment their child enters a School Building. Parents have the responsibility for the behavior of children while they are at School. The people who are assigned to this class, paid or unpaid, must use discretion and must not let children use bathroom without specific verbal approval. The bathroom is there for a purpose. A child has no right to use it unless given permission to use the same. Children need a code of behavior and rules for personal conduct. Enforce discipline and expect good behavior at all times. There is no supervision if there are no rules for conduct and behavior.


Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

BhavanaJagat - Do you understand what a self contained classroom is? Do you understand what kinds of children are in such a classroom? Do you understand the gravity of the responsibility that a teacher has when they are assigned to this kind of classroom? If not, I would suggest doing a bit of research. Unless the parent is willing to come to the classroom and sit there all day, every day - anything else would break the routine in the classroom, and that is very bad in this kind of a classroom - then they have to trust the teacher and the aids to do the right thing.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.

Assuming what we've read in this story is true, you are confusing what the parent of the girl and the parent of the boy(s) are responsible for. The girl's parent is right to sue AAPS because they failed to take the situation seriously before it got totally out of control, and tried to cover it up once it did. The school management is responsible for reporting any abuse to CPS as soon as it comes to their attention. No exceptions. CPS knows how to conduct an investigation, and is an independent operator. They are in a position to be fact-driven and objective. The school administration/parents/victims/casual observers are not. If the school management were competent, they would see that it was in their best interests to get CPS involved immediately. They did not. Children will be children, they will make mistakes, act out, misbehave. It is unrealistic to think that they will not try to get away with things, or that some of them may need more help than cliches about accountability can provide. That is all part of being human. What is unacceptable is management's poor response to the situation. They have professional, moral, and legal responsibilities and obligations they did not live up to. That is what is criminal here, and that is why the lawsuit is legitimate.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Non news story. What did anybody expect that e-mail to say?


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Do we really need this many adults in a classroom? "There were four adults assigned to the classroom — one substitute teacher, one student teacher and two teacher assistants — at the time of the second incident, " It looks like we have some room to cut the school budget a little more!


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

Hi xmo, There are laws regarding the level of staffing required for special education classrooms. Also, the student teacher is an unpaid student working to finish their education. They are required to accrue a certain number of student teaching hours in order to become certified.

Dr. I. Emsayin

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

The AAPS internal lawyer who got the 12% raise needs to be called back from the districts where he was "lent out" to earn extra money for the district.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

This case was one of the headline stories on the NBC evening news last night. It probably never would have escalated to that level if it had been handled appropriately to start with......and perhaps the lawsuit would not have been filed either. When will we learn that we can't avoid errors in judgment or the inappropriate behavior of a few misguided folks, but we all have the very clear choice of whether we do or do not participate in the cover-up.

Mrs. S

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 12:40 a.m.

ok. you tell me what you would do if that was your child. you can't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing to make sure your child was safe and that other parents were made aware so it wouldn't happen to their child. you must not have kids....


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

But, when there is no other way to get the attention of institutions that spend entirely too much time/effort/resources protecting themselves and entirely too little time/effort/resources protecting those relying on their integrity and care, then lawyering up is sometimes essential. For there to have been no investigation of what occurred until the hospital reported the issue, for the hospital rather than the school district to be the reporting agency, for the parents to be unable to obtain a transfer for their child after repeated bullying (including 2 sexual assaults)........these are all very serious allegations, which, if true, suggest MANY flaws in the "system." It seems appropriate for AAPS to look carefully at what it did NOT do in this case, and rather than playing the lawyering up game, acknowledge whatever flaws in the system exist and fix them. That seems like it might also be the appropriate response to pass along to other Eberwhite and AAPS parents who are concerned about the way this case was handled. It takes two to play the lawyering up game. If there is no way to get the attention of an institution other than a lawsuit, the institution--once their attention has been forcibly refocused to where it needs to be--always has the option of admitting its errors and making amends. Frankly, as a parent, that would go a long way toward my believing that the institution had learned something from this situation.....and that it would not happen again......perhaps to my child the next time.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 4:54 a.m.

Lawyering up is not usually conducive to open and honest communication.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:51 a.m.

It is really unfortunate that this principal now has to clean up the garbage left by the past principal and interim principal.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

"Student safety is our top priority." So says Bill. If this were the case, these incidents would not have happened. End of story.


Fri, Feb 10, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

I agree with northshoreburbguy! Bill Harris is an amazing principal. I should know.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.

@northshore: Are you new here? We normally do not let superfluous facts get in the way of our rants.


Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Hey! Bill Harris wasn't the principal when these incidents took place. Read the stories & get your facts straight before taking shots at people!

monroe c

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.

Too little, too late.