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Perrydale reaches lawsuit settlement

PERRYDALE -- The lawsuit accusing Perrydale School District of not properly investigating a report of a volunteer coach's alleged inappropriate relationship with a student has ended with a settlement.

Robin Stoutt

Robin Stoutt

September 10, 2013

PERRYDALE -- The lawsuit accusing Perrydale School District of not properly investigating a report of a volunteer coach's alleged inappropriate relationship with a student has ended with a settlement.

The school district made the announcement in a letter posted on its website dated Thursday.

The lawsuit also named the Dufur School District south of The Dalles as a defendant.

"The lawsuit was resolved late last month with both the Dufur and Perrydale School Districts' insurance companies contributing a small monetary amount to settle the case," Superintendent Robin Stoutt wrote in the letter. "No money was used from the districts' general fund(s)."

The letter did not state how much the school district's insurance companies agreed to pay in the settlement.

Ashley Nastoff, associate attorney with O'Donnell, Clark & Crew, the Portland firm who represented the plaintiff in the case, didn't disclose the amount either when reached Tuesday morning, saying most settlements of this nature are confidential. The plaintiff had asked for $1.8 million from each district and $200,000 in economic damages.

The letter continued to say: "Both school districts indicated that the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing and that the districts' intention in settling the case was to avoid the expense, delay and burden of further litigation."

The suit filed in Wasco County in September 2012 alleged Angela Lindell, a volunteer girls basketball coach at Perrydale during the 2008-09 school year, was rumored to have had an inappropriate relationship with a male student that the district did not investigate or report.

The lawsuit claimed Perrydale's inaction on the rumors allowed Lindell to later work in the Dufur School District, where similar incidents occurred.

In April 2012, Lindell pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual harassment and one count of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor in incidents involving three male Dufur students. The plaintiff in the lawsuit was one of the victims of the incidents at Dufur.

Stoutt stated in the letter "student safety and prevention of child abuse is of paramount importance to the Perrydale School District" and that the district has adopted several changes to its policies and procedures in recent years.

Among the changes: updates to policies and training regarding reporting of suspected abuse of children, a strong partnership with nonprofit child abuse prevention organization Juliette's House to provide staff training, and a faster volunteer and employee criminal background check that provides a report within 24 hours. The district also requires volunteers to undergo a new criminal background check each year.

While she didn't examine the district's policies in detail during the case, Nastoff said those measures are a positive sign.

"Increasing security and education about child abuse are all steps in the right direction," she said.

Attempts to reach Perrydale School District for further comment before press time Tuesday morning were unsuccessful.

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