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Lawyer says federal lawsuit against Mason Public Schools "has no merit"

Posted at 9:10 AM, Feb 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-17 09:10:15-05
  • Video shows a mother of middle school kids in the Mason School District asking administrators for transparency
  • Parents who have kids in the Mason School District are asking for transparency surrounding a Title IX investigation
  • A male student who was accused of sexually assaulting a female classmate was expelled and eventually reinstated when his parents successfully petitioned the Mason School Board

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

I'm your Mason neighborhood reporter, Hannah McIlree, following up on a story I've been telling you about for weeks by talking with a parent who says she still has concerns about transparency following Mason Public Schools' statement regarding the ongoing lawsuit sparked by the reinstatement of a male student that allegedly sexually assaulted a girl in class.

"If you put too many glass walls, it's not transparent anymore," said Mason parent, Kelly Hannon.

Friday I met with Kelly Hannon, her children attend Mason Public Schools and next year will attend Mason Middle School. In the same school, the alleged sexual assault took place in May 2022.

"I have faith in the Middle School. There is only so much you can do, unfortunately. As someone who works in a school, unless everyone has a one-to-one ratio, kids are going to do things they're still learning and developing," said Hannon.

Questions of transparency are plaguing the Mason School District following against the district, administrators, and two partners. The suit alleges a boy sexually assaulted a girl at Mason Middle School in 2022.

The boy was expelled following a Title IX investigation. But, according to the suit, the boy was reinstated after his parents, two Ingham County officials, "used their political influence" to petition the board.

The girl's parents want the boy expelled for good. The boy's parents say they want the suit thrown out because the claims are baseless, and they followed the law regarding reinstatement procedures.

In this particular incident with the lawsuit, I think transparency is difficult because, with a lawsuit, the answer is always no comment because that's what the lawyers tell you to do", says Hannon

Wednesday morning, Mason High School students held a peaceful protest by walking out of class. Their goal was to get answers from the district about why students weren't informed of the Title XI investigation and the lawsuit.

The answer they got was a letter from Superintendent Dr. Gary Kinzer and the district's attorney Mark Ostrowski, stating quote:

"Without discussing the specifics of this case, it can be said that the school district has an obligation to provide an appropriate education to all of its students. There are specific statutes governing and limiting the discipline applicable to each situation. In the present case, the school district acted in compliance with the applicable law, and the plaintiff's lawsuit against the school district and its administrators has no merit," said Ostrowski.

Mason parents want the school system to provide more resources regarding Title IX investigations and put a larger emphasis on consent during sexual health courses.

"I think there's some work they could do to show how Title IX works and how you can connect with people if you have an issue, said Hannon.

Hannon says she understands the school board can't say much about the Title XI investigation because it involves minors.

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Mason, Leslie

Neighborhood Reporter

Hannah McIlree