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Lawsuits & Litigation

Lawsuit Over Federal Way School District Sex Scandal Ends with $425K Settlement

— October 21, 2020

Federal Way High School and one of its former basketball coaches recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with a former student for $425,000.

A $425,000 settlement was recently agreed to between a former Federal Way High School student and Jerome Collins, a former basketball coach, and the school. The suit itself was filed over allegations that the school and Collins covered up a “sex scandal to save the school’s chance of a basketball state championship in 2016.” A former student, Tally Thomas, filed a $3.5 million tort claim against the school district as a result.

Basketball graphic
Basketball graphic; image courtesy of OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay,

What happened to prompt the suit, though? According to the tort claim filed by Thomas, “Former FWHS basketball player Jalen McDaniels videotaped her against her will and without her knowledge performing oral sex on an unnamed Federal Way High School basketball player and that the recording was viewed by several other students.” Additionally, the claim argued that “head basketball coach, Jerome Collins, was aware of this incident, had watched the video in question, and failed to report the situation to the authorities.”

The incident occurred two years ago. Once the district learned of the allegations, it placed the coach on administrative leave and launched a third-party investigation. During the investigation, the district found “Collins violated the reasonable expectation of a professional educator when he failed to further investigate facts presented to him of alleged student misconduct in 2016.” As a result of the findings, Collins was “stripped of his coaching abilities…and removed from his teaching position at Federal Way High School.” He has since taken a job at Brigadoon Elementary School as a gym teacher. 

As part of the settlement, Thomas and Collins both agreed to drop the claims, “and the settlement does not serve as an admission of liability or wrongdoing by Collins or the district.” Additionally, Thomas will receive $425,000. When commenting on the settlement, Kassie Swenson, chief of communications and strategy for FWPS, said the settlement funds will not come from the “district’s general education budget.” Instead, she added:

“Like all school districts, there is insurance to cover litigation and settlement costs…Any settlement amounts are determined through confidential, independent mediation involving the insurance company and legal representation.”

It’s important to note that the settlement was agreed to despite the case being dismissed because the “recording of Thomas took place in a private apartment after school hours, away from district property and had no connection to the district.” However, “at least two meetings between Collins, Thomas, her parents, McDaniels, the other student-athlete suspect, and the boys’ parents took place at Federal Way High School on or about Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, and Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016,” according to court documents.


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