Attorney files claim with FUSD following kidnapping

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A call for policy change arose at Wednesday's Fresno Unified School Board meeting to protect school kids. This comes as the Fresno Unified School Board rejects a claim the district failed the morning a 10-year-old girl was kidnapped and assaulted.

Fresno Unified said it took routine action when it denied the claim for damages. The filing accuses the district of failing to 'timely' notify the guardians of a 10-year-old girl of her absence from school the day she was abducted and assaulted on her way to class.

Michelle Asadoorian is the only trustee at the meeting who said, on the public record, district attendance policy needs to be evaluated. "Maybe we would not have diverted this horrible tragedy that happened. But the parent would have been notified hours earlier that their child wasn't at school when they thought they were," she said.

According to the district, automated calls are made beginning at 6pm the day of the student's absence.

In September, the 10-year-old girl was kidnapped in Fresno, assaulted and left bound in a field near Kerman.

Investigators said 23-year-old Kalvin Cardenas is the attacker. They said he took the girl while she was heading to her bus stop.

The claim, filed by the victim's family attorney, said "... FUSD knew she was absent and failed to inform her legal guardians of the absence."

Following policy robo-calls were not made until well after the young girl was found on the side of the road.

"I'd love to go volunteer doing something to protect the children of Fresno," said Jean Bradley. She told the school board the late-in-the-day notification is just not enough. "It should be done after the first or second period, save a lot of lives that way. There's just too much violence out there on the streets."

The district's lawyer explained claims for damages must first be filed with an agency, like the district, before they are filed in court.

Superintendent Michael Hanson said parents are not to blame for what happened, but the community needs to take action to keep kids safe. I think it's an important thing for me to remind parents, this stuff happens in our community," he said. "You need to take care of your kids. You need to watch your kid walk down the street. You need to know who they're hanging out with. You need to know where they are at 6pm and not just 10pm."

The claim's denial now opens the door for the victim's attorney to file a civil lawsuit against the district. The claim does not say how much money the family is seeking, but says it will cover things like medical and mental health costs.


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