Northampton Press

Saturday, December 15, 2018

School district hires counsel for sexual assault lawsuit

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in School

Northampton Area School District has hired a Philadelphia area law firm to represent it in a federal lawsuit that the district and Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 face concerning an alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old female student with special needs on a school bus.

NASD school directors voted 9-0, without discussion, at the Sept. 24 board meeting to approve an addendum under new business to the agenda: “Engagement Letter for the Levin Legal Group, P.C. for representation of the parties named and the Letter and Concurrent Letter of Representation for the Levin Legal Group, P.C. for concurrent representation of the parties named in the Letter and in accordance with the acknowledgment and consent of each of the parties named in the Letter.”

“Yes, the Levin Group is retained to represent the district in the lawsuit,” NASD school board Solicitor Atty. C. Steven Miller confirmed Oct. 1.

Miller was asked if NASD has received notice of the lawsuit.

“Was the lawsuit served on the district? The answer is ‘no,’” Miller said.

According to its website, Levin Legal Group concentrates on civil litigation, labor and employment law, civil rights litigation, municipal liability, workers’ compensation and public school law.

“The law firm is well-versed in the area of school law,” Miller added.

Levin’s clients have included the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the School District of Philadelphia, Downingtown Area School District and Harrisburg School District.

After the Sept. 24 meeting, NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said he is unable to comment on district litigation matters. The school board met in executive session before and after the Sept. 24 meeting for personnel and legal matters.

The student is identified in the complaint only by her initials. She and her parents, also identified only by their initials, are seeking more than $150,000 in damages.

The complaint, filed Sept. 11 by Atty. Michael D. Shaffer of Philadelphia, alleges incidents occurred in December 2017.