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SHERIDAN — Sheridan County School District 1 Superintendent Marty Kobza is listed as a defendant in a civil lawsuit alleging that school district administrators in Hot Springs County failed to protect a 6-year-old girl from being sexually assaulted, The Sheridan Press learned last week.
During the time period in which the incidents were said to be taking place, Kobza served as superintendent of Hot Springs County School District 1 in Thermopolis.
In a complaint filed in district court last September, the girl’s parents allege that district officials created an unsafe environment for their daughter by allowing a single high school aged student to ride the same bus with her and her classmates to and from school.
They also claim that Kobza was negligent in his duties by failing to properly supervise, train or discipline the driver or her aid — both of whom were present at the time of the assaults.
Kobza declined to comment on specifics of the case, except to reference a documented response in which an attorney representing the Hot Springs County district strongly denies the plaintiffs’ allegations.
The complaint by the girl’s parents alleges their daughter was assaulted on multiple occasions over a period of several weeks in the fall of 2008.
In the document, the parents claim a videotaped scene from one of those incidents shows the high school aged student touching their daughter while covering the action with his jacket. The driver and her aid are said to have been walking down the aisle at the time but failed to intervene.
Among their grievances, the plaintiffs allege the school district was slow to respond to allegations of the assaults and that no disciplinary action was ever taken against the offending student or the adults on the bus.
Additionally, Kobza is alleged to have told the girl’s parents she never had to ride the bus to begin with.
In the rebuttal, the school district’s attorney denies all of those claims.
Later charged as a juvenile, the high school student admitted to allegations of sexually assaulting a minor, according to the complaint.
Calls to the Hot Springs County attorney for further information about relevant criminal aspects of the case were not immediately returned.
Now a second year employee of (Big Horn/Dayton) Sheridan County School District 1, Kobza’s contract was recently renewed by the district’s board of trustees. Chairman Johann Nield said board members were aware of the lawsuit but had no plans to take any action as a result.
Nield said Kobza was hired because of his superb reputation as a school administrator. He added that board members have been extremely satisfied with his job performance thus far.
“We were looking for a person that could take our district from good to great, and I and the rest of the board know we have the right person in the job,” he wrote in an email to The Press.
A jury trial for the case is scheduled to take place in February 2014. The plaintiffs have asked the court to declare the district, Kobza, the driver and her aid in violation of the girl’s Title IX rights as the result of what they refer to as deliberately indifferent and discriminatory treatment of their daughter.
They are also seeking compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined at trial.
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