Lawsuit alleges Aurora Dist. 131 officials failed to report sex abuse
The mother of a victim of alleged sexual abuse is suing East Aurora School District 131 and a principal, along with the kindergarten teacher charged with the assault.
In the lawsuit, the mother argues that she told district officials of teacher Juan C. Avendano's abuse and behavior, but they failed to contact a state agency to investigate.
Avendano, 62, of the 1300 block of South Glen Circle, Aurora, was arrested in March 2018 and charged with 18 felonies, including six counts of predatory criminal sexual assault.
He is accused of sexually abusing and sexually assaulting two students from April 2014 through March 2018.
The mother, identified in the lawsuit as Jennifer Doe, was told by her daughter of Avendano's abuse and met with Bardwell Elementary School Principal Twila Garza in September 2014, the lawsuit argues.
"At the conclusion of the meeting, Defendant Garza vehemently rejected Plaintiff Jennifer Doe's reported allegations," read part of the suit, which also contends Avendano's "deviant sexual conduct" with the girl got worse after the meeting.
In late November 2014, the girl told her mother of more severe conduct by Avendano, and the mom filed a complaint with police.
"Garza deliberately failed to notify any investigating agency of the abuse allegations against Avendano and allowed Avendano to remain in the classroom," according to the suit. "Plaintiff Jennifer Doe also made multiple complaints about Avendano's inappropriate conduct, in person, to District 131 administrative offices. District 131 took no action to protect minor plaintiff from Avendano."
The suit argues the district was "willful and wanton" in its hiring of Avendano and seeks damages from him as well.
Under state law, people in certain professions, such as teachers and doctors, are required to notify the state's Department of Children and Family Services of possible abuse. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges.
A message left with Doe's attorney. Stephanie White, was not immediately returned.
Tom Jackson, District 131 spokesman, said the district does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit is due in court on Dec. 18.
District 131 officials said Avendano was placed on administrative leave a week before his March 15 arrest after the district learned of the investigation.
Avendano is free after posting bond and pleaded not guilty in August.
He is next due in court on Thursday and faces a punishment of 36 years to 180 years in prison and lifetime registration as a sex offender if convicted of all the charges.