KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A jury found Hogan Prep Middle School liable of discrimination and a former teacher guilty of battery involving a former student.
A judge ordered Hogan Prep to pay a total of $700,000 in actual and punitive damages. It also ordered former 7th grade teacher Douglas Bliss to pay the victim $250,000.
The lawsuit accused Bliss of molesting a 7th grade student who attended Hogan Prep Middle School during the 2017-18 school year.
According to the lawsuit, Bliss began sending the plaintiff out of his classroom in March 2018, due to alleged discipline problems. The lawsuit claims the student’s parents were not informed of Bliss’ actions, as required by school policy.
A short time later, Bliss began requiring the student to stay after class to make up work. The lawsuit states that no other students were present.
At one point, the student asked Bliss for help with her work. The lawsuit claims Bliss placed his hand under her skirt and began fondling her, according to the lawsuit. The girl told Bliss to stop and left the classroom.
The lawsuit claims other teachers, students, and administrators at Hogan Prep Middle School knew Bliss hugged and kissed his boyfriends in class in front of students. It also claims Bliss called other underage students suggestive sexual names such as “Daddy.”
The plaintiff claims she reported Bliss’ behavior to Hogan Prep’s Vice-Principal in 2018. The Vice Principal said she would tell the Principal and schedule a meeting between the two. That meeting never happened, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the victim has been hospitalized for severe depression and tried to take her own life multiple times since she was assaulted by Bliss in 2018.
An attorney representing Hogan Prep released the following statement on behalf of the charter school.
Hogan Preparatory Academy (HPA) is committed to ensuring a safe and healthy
environment for their students, teachers and staff, and is committed to zero
tolerance for inappropriate behavior between adults and students.
Since 2018 when the alleged incident that prompted this lawsuit is said to have
occurred, the entire leadership team and many teachers and staff at HPA have
changed. Nevertheless, we are disappointed in the outcome of the trial. The
Children’s Division investigated the claims and determined that there was
insufficient evidence that any abuse had occurred, and the allegations were
determined to be unsubstantiated. KCPD also investigated the claims and
determined that there was insufficient probable cause that an offense occurred.
Unfortunately, this evidence was not allowed to be presented to the jury at trial.
We maintain that the claims are not true, and remain disputed. We are reviewing
and evaluating all legal options at this point; no decisions have been made.
Regardless of the outcome, everyone at HPA remains focused on ensuring theirKeith A. Cutler, Attorney
teachers do their best work; their students thrive academically, emotionally, and
socially; and the parents are confident their students are in a safe and healthy
environment for learning.
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