Post gets Douglas Co. school district to disclose confidential $2.2 million lawsuit settlement

The Denver Post: The Douglas County School District paid $2.2 million as part of a confidential agreement to settle a federal lawsuit alleging administrators ignored their duty to report to police allegations they received about a Rocky Heights Middle School teacher who went on to repeatedly sexually assault a 14-year-old girl.

The school district initially had refused to disclose the settlement to The Denver Post when the newspaper asked for details while reporting on failures in mandatory reporting laws at schools throughout the state. District officials had contended a confidentiality provision prevented the district from disclosing the settlement.

Wendy Jacobs, the incoming acting general counsel for the Douglas County School District, acknowledged on Tuesday that the details of the settlement were public and should have been provided when The Post made a request for the information. She released to the newspaper a copy of the settlement, which was reached in 2016.

The district released the settlement after the newspaper’s lawyer, Steven Zansberg, discussed the matter with Jacobs. During that discussion, Zansberg pointed to case law in Colorado that showed government entities in Colorado cannot withhold from disclosure public documents, such as settlements to litigation, by entering into a contract.

A copy of the confidentiality settlement agreement provided the newspaper on Tuesday also showed the agreement only restrained the victim of the sexual assaults, her parents and their attorneys from disclosing the terms of the agreement. There was nothing in the agreement constraining the school district from disclosing to the public the settlement.

VThe Denver Post

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