In an email to ESD parents sent yesterday after compensatory damages were awarded, board chairman John Eagle said an appellate team had been in courtroom for 10 weeks, which is the entire length of the trial. He also said the school’s “policies and procedures went a long way in protecting the students.” Go to the jump for the full text.
From: John Eagle <REDACTED>
Sent: Wed, Sep 21, 2011 12:22 pm
Subject: ESD Message from Mr. Eagle and Mr. Colonnetta Regarding Ruling
Dear ESD Parents,
A Dallas County Jury today ruled against ESD and imposed a multi-million dollar award. ESD leaders say the ruling and damage award is “beyond belief” and will be appealed.
The jury largely found that ESD was not liable for the teacher’s inappropriate relationship with the student and that its policies and procedures went a long way in protecting the students from these kinds of events. However, the jury did award damages to the family regarding the student’s separation.
While we all hoped for justice today, we planned for this possible outcome because it has been so obvious that our attorneys have been defending ESD on an uneven playing field. The Court did not allow ESD to present critical evidence as part of its defense, including testimony from the former student’s best friend and expert psychologists. In addition, the court refused to allow ESD to present rebuttal evidence regarding last-minute, surprise testimony.
As a result, we have had an appellate team in court every day for the last ten weeks developing the arguments for an appeal. Along with our insurance company, we plan to file our appeal as soon as possible.
As school leaders testified during the trial, ESD did not know, and ESD could not have known about the relationship between the former student and teacher. The school moved quickly after Farmers Branch police contacted us after questioning them in a parking lot on a Sunday afternoon. In addition, school officials did their best to protect the former student and provide her with the privacy she and her parents requested.
This has been a difficult time for the school community. Be assured that we regularly examine and re-examine our policies, procedures and training programs to protect your children. A safety program is never “finished.” It has to be in a state of constant evaluation.
The Board and school leaders are totally committed to the mission of the Episcopal School of Dallas. Thank you for your support over the last ten weeks of this trial.
Attached you will also find the news release issued by the school following the final stage of the trial.
Chairman of the Board
Vice-Chairman of the Board