Malibu Surfside News

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Student Files Million-Dollar Claim against SMMUSD

• Alleges She Was Hurt and Humiliated

BY BILL KOENEKER

Dionne Evans, a 15-year-old ninth grade student at Malibu High School who reported she was slapped by her teacher in front of her classmates, has filed a claim with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District through her attorney for over $1 million in damages.
Beverly Hills attorney Donald Karpel acknowledged a claim was made to the school district.
“We did file a notice of claim,” said Karpel, which gives the school district 45 days to respond. “Yes, it is for over a million dollars, but you have to put some number on the claim form. That is not necessarily the number we will use [if it goes to trial],” he added.
“We actually just received the claim today,” said school district Risk Manager Gary Bradbury. “The claim will be reviewed by our attorneys and the board will be informed of the claim if they have not already read about it.”
The story went viral not long after it became public.
Karpel confirmed there is a criminal investigation into the incident, which is going on at the same time.
The incident has been described in some media as the teacher modeling her behavior after a character in the movie “Bridesmaids.”
 “[The character] tries to slap some sense into the other character,” said Karpel, “but that was not a pat on the cheek [in the movie as described by the district].”
Karpel was asked if there is any racial component to the incident.  Evans is African-American. He said, “We have gotten letters from some of the students who expressed concern about the teacher’s motives.”

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