In 2012, a young teacher took a job educating hearing-impaired students with Miami-Dade Public Schools. Two years later, district officials reassigned her to teach kids with emotional and behavioral disorders at South Dade Senior High — even though she lacked the required licensing and training.
She was a month into her new job when an 18-year-old student, Victor Nash, came into her classroom after school and pulled the blinds shut. Nash, who’d previously been arrested for making death threats and deemed incompetent to stand trial, slammed the teacher to the floor, choked her until she lost consciousness, and raped her. Then he took her keys and drove off in her car.
Four years after the September 2014 attack, the teacher, identified only as Jane Doe, stands to receive $3 million in compensation for the horrific ordeal. The school district agreed earlier this year to pay that amount to settle a civil lawsuit Doe filed in 2016. Another hurdle remains: Legislative approval is required for government entities to pay more than $200,000 in damages.
Now, state Sen. Perry Thurston, a Democrat from Broward County, has filed a bill to authorize the district to do just that.
“The injuries suffered by Jane Doe are persistent, permanent, and debilitating in nature,” reads Senate Bill 38.
Doe’s attorney, Joseph Kalbac Jr., did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nash, now 22, was adjudicated guilty of attempted murder, sexual battery on a physically helpless victim, strong-arm robbery, and grand theft auto. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. State records show he’s in custody at Okaloosa Correctional Institute in the Panhandle.
According to the lawsuit, Nash had been either suspended or expelled from a Miami-Dade school in 2013 after a confrontation with the assistant principal. During the 2013-14 school year, he threatened to harm school officials and students.
In June 2013, when he was 17, Nash was arrested for making written threats to kill or do bodily harm. He was found mentally incompetent to stand trial in May 2014. About three months later, he enrolled at South Dade Senior High School in what the complaint describes as a failure to keep “violent, unstable, and predatory students from attending mainstream schools.”
Doe knew nothing of Nash’s troubled history when he was assigned to her class that fall, the lawsuit says. The school district violated state law by not telling her about the charges against Nash, or that he’d been found mentally incompetent to face trial. She also had no training in self-defense, a requirement for teachers who work with students who have emotional and behavioral disorders.
“The school board failed to take any steps to protect its students, faculty, and staff over whom it had authority and control, from Victor Nash, and other violent and unstable students,” the complaint says. “The school board documented the prior dangerous and confrontational conduct by Victor Nash to a school administrator, but failed to warn Jane Doe and others of his dangerous propensities and mental instability.”
Nash’s attack on Doe happened September 19, 2014. After showing up in the classroom, Nash grabbed her wrist, and she yelled, “Victor, don’t do this!” Despite her screaming, no one stopped the assault, the complaint says. Nash took Doe’s cell phone and left school grounds in her car. She flagged someone down for help, and Nash was apprehended later that day.
Doe is still suffering. The lawsuit says there has been permanent damage, including depression, constant fear, and nightmares. “These injuries are persistent, permanent, and debilitating in nature,” the lawsuit says, “and she will suffer these damages the rest of her life.”
The district has already paid $200,000, and its insurer has added $1.5 million. The other $1.3 million will be paid if Thurston’s bill is approved.
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