Case not closed

HARLINGEN — A federal lawsuit against the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District claiming a teacher sexually harassed and romantically pursued a student appears far from over.

A schedule has been set in United States District Court that could potentially have this case end in a jury trial, which is slated for about a year from now.

However, court documents also state that while there so far has been no substantive settlement negotiations, mediation could later be used to resolve the matter.

In March, the father of a local high school student filed suit against HCISD on behalf of his daughter, who is said to have been repeatedly sexually assaulted on school grounds by one of the district’s teachers.

The suit states the abuse occurred during a period of months in the 2014-15 school year when the girl was 15 and a student in the teacher’s class.

The claim names that teacher as Robert Amitrani, also an assistant coach for the girls volleyball and softball teams. He died on July 31, 2015.

Attorney Ricardo Garcia is representing the father in this matter and is suing on the basis the school district violated federal Title IX laws that protect students against sex discrimination.

The lawsuit states that pursuit of the girl, and repeated sexual assaults constitutes discrimination on the basis of her sex within the meaning of Title IX.

The complaint contends the “District had actual knowledge that Armitrani posed a substantial risk of sexually harassing students in general and female students in particular.”

In the defendant’s answer to the complaint, the district states it “lacks knowledge of information sufficient to form a belief regarding the remaining allegations,” which include that Amitrani pursued the girl and repeatedly sexually assaulted her at the school during school hours.

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