Family threatens school with lawsuit

A Daly City family is threatening to sue school officials after an intruder approached their daughter in a Marjorie H. Tobias Elementary School bathroom in December.

Sam Garlitos, the father of the former Tobias student, sent a letter through his lawyer to Tobias Elementary, the Jefferson Elementary School District, the Daly City city attorney and San Mateo County saying he intended to file a lawsuit against the school and district alleging officials’ lack of supervision last year.

On Dec. 12, 2006, at 12:30 p.m., a suspect crawled underneath a locked restroom stall and stood in front of a pre-teen girl as she was using the bathroom, according to police. Nothing of a sexual nature occurred between the student and suspect because the girl screamed, police said.

The suspect then unlocked the stall door and was seen escaping by an adult teacher, police said. At the time, the suspect was thought to be the same person who had exposed himself to a Westmoor High School student the week prior to the Tobias incident.

After the incident, students went over “stranger danger” protocol and were not supposed to go to the bathroom unaccompanied. Additional doors were locked and the school received permission from the Fire Department to close off a back stairwell — the same path through which the suspect escaped.

Garlitos’ daughter, the father said, did not attend school for two weeks after the event. When she returned, she ate lunch with a teacher and did not go to the bathroom while at school for a month, Garlitos said.

His daughter has since transferred to Thomas Edison Elementary and attends several therapy sessions a week, he said.

Garlitos said he had also attended therapy sessions for the hardship this ordeal has caused to him and his family.

“It’s been hell,” he said. Garlitos alleged that he has spoken with district officials about having the cost of the therapy sessions covered by school insurance. Those efforts, however, have fallen through.

Jason Lundberg, an associate with Ladva Shoker & Associates, the firm that sent the June 6 letter on behalf of Garlitos, said the firm was conducting further research for the claim. The claim alleges there was negligent supervision at the school on the date of the incident, Lundberg said.

Superintendent Barbara Wilson saidshe cannot comment on any pending litigation nor could she comment on any student matters.

Principal Benjamin Moser did not return a call for comment.

dsmith@examiner.com


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