School District Rejects MHS Student Slapping Assertion
BY BILL KOENEKER
To no one's surprise, a $1-million claim for damages filed by a Malibu High School ninth grade student, Dionne Evans, who reported she was slapped by a teacher in front of her classmates, was rejected by Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District officials.
State law requires that a claim must be made to any governmental entity before the matter is eligible to be litigated. The claim was filed by Evans' attorney for over $1 million in damages.
Beverly Hills attorney Donald Karpel confirmed the claim was rejected by the school district.
Karpel said he had to file the claim in order to proceed with a lawsuit. "I would be shocked if they paid. It has never happened in my 40 years," he said.
Karpel said he couldn't file the lawsuit until the claim was rejected. "I'm preparing the lawsuit now," he added.
School district Risk Manager Gary Bradbury said the claim was reviewed by school district attorneys and the board was informed of the claim.
Karpel confirmed there also is a criminal investigation of the matter going on at the same time.
The incident has been described in some media as the teacher modeling her behavior after a character in the movie "Bridesmaids."
"[The character] tries to slap some sense into the other character," said Karpel, "but that was not a pat on the cheek [in the movie]."
Karpel was asked if there is any racial component to the incident. "We have gotten letters from some of the students who expressed concern about the teacher's motives," he said.
District officials and others have defended the teacher, saying she has always used innovative ways to capture students' attention.