Rainier Superintendent Michael Carter

Rainier School District Superintendent Michael Carter.

A settlement recently came to light in a $1,856,000 lawsuit that was filed in November of 2017 against the Rainier School District, its Superintendent Michael Carter, and the former Special Education Director Laurie Kash. The suit was settled out of court this past September.

Two former teaching assistants filed the suit, alleging civil rights violations and unlawful employment actions amounted to a cover-up of sexual abuse claims from a student. Both teaching assistants have resigned from the district.

According to court documents, former Rainier School District instructional assistants Michelle Eastham and Terrianne MacEllven claimed that in 2015 they were stopped from reporting sexual abuse that was disclosed by a 6-year-old student because of what they said were Carter and Kash’s “personal relationships with the alleged abuser’s caretaker.”

The lawsuit also alleged that Carter and Kash "did not believe" reports that a male of high school age had physically and sexually attacked the student. Eastham and McEllven said when they followed through with reporting the alleged abuse, Carter and Kash engaged in a “sustained campaign of harassment, abuse and intimidation not only of the plaintiffs but also of one of the plaintiff’s school-aged children.”

Kash left Rainier School District and was hired as the special education director for the Texas Education Agency in August of 2017, but was fired in November of that year. Texas news organizations reported that she was fired because she did not disclose information related to the then-ongoing lawsuit during the hiring process.

According to settlement documents, MacEllven was paid $32,500 and Eastham was paid $66,000. Rainier School District’s insurance provider PACE paid the settlements.

Carter said the settlement was not an admission of any wrongdoing. “In a settlement, the settlement is being made by the defense solely to avoid future defending of all civil allegations,” Carter said. “There’s no liability here.”

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