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Hillsboro mom files suit against school district, Century High teachers

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Shawna Dicintio has filed a lawsuit on behalf of her son in U.S. District Court in Portland against the Hillsboro School District and a handful of staff members at Century High School, claiming his Constitutional rights were violated on several occasions last school year.

The complaint, filed Dec. 14, names superintendent Mike Scott and former Century principal Ted Zehr — who is now executive director of secondary programs at the school district office — as well as Century’s dean of students Brad Greenwood and teachers Brett Trosclair and Derek Duggan.

The plaintiff states that her son is openly gay, a fact known to his peers and school staff. It also states her son was a special education student.

The lawsuit makes seven claims; the first alleges a violation of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

During a school assembly in May, the suit states, “Defendant violated Plaintiff’s constitutional right to freedom of speech by threatening to kill him and then removing him from public school based on comments made to a fellow student.”

The complaint states, “Defendants had an unofficial policy, custom or practice of condoning harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

It also claims the defendant violated the student’s Fourteenth Amendment right by failing to provide equal protection under the law.

The lawsuit further alleges the federal Title IX law was violated — a law that protects students from sex discrimination — and that the school failed to provide “reasonable accommodations, related services, or supports” to the student for his disabilities.

“Plaintiff suffered emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, stress, fear, and ultimately, loss of a public education.

“As a result of Hillsboro School District’s deliberate indifference to the sex-based discrimination and hostile education environment, Plaintiff’s existing anxiety was exacerbated, as well as his fear for his personal safety …” The suit claims the student was threatened, taunted and assaulted during the various incidents at the school.

“Defendents’ conduct toward Plaintiff was extreme and outrageous and constitutes an extraordinary transgression of the bounds of socially tolerable conduct …”

The suit requests reinstatement of Dicintio’s son into a public high school and that the school district provide for a safe environment for him to attend school, “through whatever means necessary including but not limited [to] police escorts, private security, employee advocates, counselors …”

When reached for comment, Dicintio did not indicate whether her son had been expelled from the school district or whether she had removed him from school.

Additionally, the suit asks for economic and non-economic damages, for past and future medical bills, future wage losses “and possible future diminished earning capacity in an amount to be proven at trial.”

Finally, the claim requests that the state withhold funding to the school district until every district employee completes at least three hours of diversity training and every administrator and teacher takes at least eight hours of training on sexual orientation and gender identity with a live instructor unaffiliated with the school district.

District spokeswoman Beth Graser said Monday she had not yet heard about the case and declined comment.

Dicintio is represented by Kevin Brague of Kivel & Howard LLP of Portland.