- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - School board lawyers have agreed to settle a lawsuit by a former student who accused officials of allowing several boys who sexually assaulted her to remain at her middle school and to traumatize her for weeks.

The settlement was reached in federal court in Hartford last week and awaits final approval by the Madison Board of Education, lawyers in the case confirmed Tuesday. The board was expected to vote on the deal Tuesday night.

Five boys were charged with sexual assault on allegations they fondled the girl and performed oral sex on her against her will when she was intoxicated at a New Year’s Eve party at one of the boys’ homes in 2009, according to court documents. She was a 13-year-old eighth-grader at the time.

The girl and her mother sued the school board in September 2011, saying officials learned of the allegations about 11 days after the assaults but took no disciplinary action against the boys.

The boys were allowed to stay at Polson Middle School for weeks, until they voluntarily withdrew after they were arrested, according to the lawsuit. The girl also said she was subjected to repeated harassment and intimidation by the boys and their friends.

All the boys later pleaded guilty or no contest to reduced charges in juvenile court and received probation, according to court documents and one of the boys’ parents.

A sixth boy was accused of taking photos of the assaults and showing them to other students. He was not arrested. He was suspended for a week but allowed to return to the middle school and later attended Daniel Hand High School with the girl, the lawsuit says.

The attorneys involved in the lawsuit - Catherine Nietzel for the Madison Board of Education and William Wilson II for the former student and her mother - said terms of the settlement weren’t being disclosed because of a confidentiality agreement. They declined further comment.

The lawsuit said school officials had failed to protect the girl and discriminated against her by violating her rights under Title IX of a federal education law that prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funding.

School officials previously denied any wrongdoing.

The girl, now an 18-year-old college freshman, also sued the boys and their parents in state court. That lawsuit remains pending against some of the boys and their parents, while others settled.

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