District settles suit for $30,000

  • By Tony Dondero Enterprise reporter
  • Friday, November 30, 2007 12:43pm

A sexual discrimination suit filed by two former Meadowdale High School students against the Edmonds School District in 2006 was settled out of court for $30,000 at the end of August.

Under the settlement, Cambria Smith and Latrina Woods will receive $15,000 each from the district minus attorney’s fees which were about 25 percent.

The two former students alleged in the suit that paraeducator Kevin Mooney, while supervising a computer lab at school, made comments to other students about their sexuality, implying that they were gay. Mooney’s initial comments came in response to a comment from Smith’s brother, implying that Mooney is gay.

The young women’s attorney, Thaddeus Martin of Tacoma, said although the plaintiffs received monetary damages from the district “that wasn’t the driver in the case.”

“It wasn’t just about the money it was about getting what the school deserved,” Woods said. “It wasn’t all about price. (It was about) the fact that we stood up to the school.”

District officials denied the claims made by the students which included “pervasive and severe sexual harassment.”

The district agreed to settle when the law firm from the Risk Management Pool representing the district advised that settling would cost less than a trial, Edmonds School District spokeswoman Debbie Jakala said.

Seattle attorney Mark O’Donnell, the lead attorney in the case, did not return multiple phone calls for comment.

In a motion to dismiss the claims, the district’s lawyers argued that despite Mooney’s “offhand” comment, claims of discrimination were “unsupported” and the allegations of retaliation were “meritless” and the assertion of negligence was unsupported because the district did act to discipline Mooney.

“They did something about it, but they didn’t do it right. They didn’t do enough, They didn’t do something right, that’s why we got something in the end because of their wrongdoing,” Smith said.

Both Smith and Woods played basketball for Meadowdale until they were kicked off the team a few weeks before the playoffs began in the 2005-2006 season after an off-campus fight with a teammate.

Both Smith and Woods now play basketball for a four-year university in southern California. They played at Bellevue Community College last year.

Mooney, who had been a volunteer announcer for the girls basketball team, is still employed at the school but no longer is involved in the district’s athletic programs, Jakala said.

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