District Settles Fourth Lawsuit Over Students Sexually Abused
The Marian Independent Community School District paid a fourth settlement of $900,000 to parents of a former Starry Elementary kindergartner who was sexually abused by volunteer Logan McMurrin, who was 15 at the time of the crimes, while attending the school. The district has now agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle lawsuits filed against it and teacher Diane Graham by eight parents for not preventing and protecting their four students from sexual abuse. McMurrin is currently serving a sentence at the state training school for boys in Eldora.
The plaintiffs accused the district and teachers of failing to supervise McMurrin and to “adequately investigate and take appropriate action concerning instances of inappropriate sexual conduct by the Volunteer”. The district had gone as far to cover up the fact that the volunteer had worked in another classroom outside of his typical station in Graham’s even after he had been convicted.
The teacher in the other classroom, Sara Sievers, testified at Graham’s trial she found McMurrin to be immature and said he acted as if he were just another student while volunteering in her classroom. Sievers also said she witnessed him act inappropriately toward her students and knew at least some had been sitting on his lap.
“He picked up a child, and he put her on his hip as if you were picking up a child, and I noticed I saw it immediately and I asked him to put her down,” said Sievers during her testimony. While on the stand, Sievers also said she reported her observations and her concerns about what she had witnessed to Marion High School and the school removed McMurrin from her classroom.
Three lawsuits against the school were settled by the district for $600,000 each in late 2017. The fourth lawsuit was dismissed Tuesday, January 30 of this year and the settlement was finalized “upon the advice from and through its insurance carrier, Employers Mutual Casualty Co., and its legal counsel.” The insurance company negotiated a settlement with this family in exchange for a release of all claims against the district and Graham, according to Marion school officials.
“Both the district and its insurance carrier believe it was in the best interests of the student and family involved, as well as the rest of the district’s students and staff to resolve this case now and avoid prolonged litigation,” said the district’s superintendent, Chris Dyer.
Dyer added that the district will continue to have student and adult volunteers aiding its teachers in their classrooms. The district always had internal review processes for the volunteers, but administrators had “identified and implemented policy changes related to those procedures in December 2016.” Dyer continued, “The District always has and will continue to take seriously its responsibility under state and federal laws and board policy to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for its students.”