SEATTLE — A lawsuit over sexual abuse allegations at Ballard High School, which is a part of Seattle Public Schools (SPS), is no longer heading to trial after the district agreed to pay the student $3 million.
The case, which would have gone to trial on June 20, involved a student and former SPS assistant soccer coach and instructional assistant Meghan Miller, who was assigned to work with special needs students at Ballard High School.
Documents state the student accused Miller of sexually abusing her on a weekly basis beginning in 2016 when the student was a 15-year-old sophomore at the school.
The abuse continued, according to the documents, until 2018 when the student’s allegations came to light.
"She thinks it was roughly 100 times or more. It was happening on a weekly basis, sometimes on campus, sometimes off campus,” said Attorney Steven Reich with Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC.
Miller was arrested and charged with child molestation and sexual misconduct with a minor. She was later convicted and is now a registered sex offender.
However, the student filed a lawsuit against SPS in December 2020, claiming the district was liable because it knew Miller might pose a danger to students and failed to protect her.
According to a release, the student’s attorneys were able to uncover evidence that showed SPS knew about previous inappropriate behavior involving Miller prior to her being hired at Ballard High School in 2010.
For instance, the attorneys said Miller was initially hired in 2007 by SPS at Roosevelt High School, where she served as an assistant girls’ soccer coach and basketball coach.
She worked there for two years but was terminated in 2009 after her supervisors observed a “pattern of predatory behavior” with students.
Miller was hired the following year at Ballard High School as an assistant girls’ soccer coach, and in 2015, her responsibilities were expanded to include instructional assistant work.
Eventually, attorneys said Miller groomed and began sexually abusing the student.
Beverly Redmond, assistant superintendent of Public Affairs at Seattle Public Schools, sent the following statement:
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) did reach a settlement with the plaintiff.
"SPS contacted law enforcement in October 2018, as soon as we learned that Ms. Miller was alleged to be having inappropriate sexual contact with a student.
Ms. Miller was subsequently charged and convicted of her crimes. After this lawsuit was filed, SPS participated in good faith in several mediations to reach a mutually agreeable financial resolution with the plaintiff. SPS paid approximately $77,000 of the settlement and the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool paid $2,923,000.
SPS Human Resources has now implemented a central review process when hiring with all positions as a further safeguard against employing individuals with a questionable employment history."
The settlement comes just a few weeks after Abdi Hassan, another SPS employee, was charged with two counts of child molestation for abuse that allegedly occurred at Rainier View Elementary School during the 2015-2016 school year.