Solana Beach parents are suing a North County school district after their 12-year-old daughter came in contact with a sexual predator during school hours.
San Dieguito Union High School District is accused of negligence in the suit, which was filed on Nov. 30 in San Diego Superior Court.
The 10-page complaint says the unnamed student of Earl Warren Middle School was repeatedly sexually assaulted in a parking lot adjacent to the school by Jeff Calica, 20, who pleaded guilty in October to one count of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and is to be sentenced Dec. 18.
The incidents occurred between December 2016 and January of this year while school was in session, the complaint says. Calica is also named in the lawsuit.
According to court records, the student met Calica through a YouTube channel, where he posts videos of him eating spicy ramen noodles and posts items such as “first day of school.”
They began communicating in chat rooms during school hours and formed an online relationship, using school computers or networks, the lawsuit claims.
The district “had a duty at all times to supervise the student use of computers and internet access on the grounds of the school and to enforce those rules and regulations necessary for the protection of students and other children,” the complaint says. Instead, administrators “negligently provided students at Earl Warren Middle School with access to the school’s Wi-Fi network … allowing them to access the internet at any time while at school on their personal devices without any supervision or monitoring.”
San Dieguito Union High School Superintendent Eric Dill released the following statement:
"The district has not been served with the lawsuit. Student safety is the top priority of the San Dieguito Union High School District. Student safety includes student privacy, so out of concern for the minor involved, we cannot publicly comment on the allegations at this time. Our middle school networks have advanced filtering to prevent accessing inappropriate websites. All middle school students participate in the Common Sense Digital Citizenship program to empower students to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions online.
“We encourage parents to talk to their children of all ages about online safety and behavior. The district recently held a series of parent workshops focused on raising awareness on teen use of technology. It is important that parents have frank discussions with their kids, set boundaries, and monitor their use of personal devices."
The lawsuit also claims students, including the 12-year-old victim, were permitted to leave school grounds to visit the Solana Beach Public Library unsupervised, which allowed the relationship to extend behind an online chat room.
During trips to the library, the student was assaulted and molested by Calica in the parking lot, the complaint said, adding that the events “have caused and continue to cause [the student] great mental, physical and nervous pain and suffering.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, plus attorney fees. Attorney Mary Bajo, who is representing the student and her parents in the suit, said the amount will be based on an evaluation of the student.
“Based on my experience with these types of cases, an incident like this can impact all aspects of someone’s current and future life,” Bajo said. “We’re hoping to have someone assess the damages and the implications of what was done to my client and then determine an appropriate amount.”
According to Bajo, the district said it has internet security on both school computers and its wireless network that prevent students from accessing inappropriate websites.
“Often times that’s not enough,” Bajo said. “There are so many ways for kids to access whatever they want and for outside predators to communicate with students.”
-- Lauryn Schroeder is a writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune