- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A mother is suing a charter school principal and the Anchorage School District because she claims her daughter suffered physical and emotional abuse brought on by teachers in the fall of 2012.

The mother, identified in the lawsuit only as “Michelle M.,” also alleges that the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School principal, Patsy Shaha, forced her 9-year-old daughter to sit in a hallway with packing tape covering her mouth. The mother claims that teachers had abused other students by taping their legs to desks in one classroom and calling them “demeaning names,” reported The Alaska Dispatch News (https://bit.ly/1GuNrhP).

The plaintiffs are demanding more than $100,000 in damages for infliction of emotional distress, medical expenses and financial loss due to being forced to move and change schools.

The school district filed an answer to the complaint May 21, stating that it should not be liable for damages because it couldn’t have foreseen the events alleged in the lawsuit. The district also states that the lawsuit was filed too late and should be barred by the statute of limitations.

The school district recently announced that Shaha, who has been the charter school’s principal since 2011, is one of more than a dozen principals being replaced for the 2015-2016 school year.

School district spokeswoman Heidi Embley said she is not aware of any connection between the lawsuit and Shaha’s contract.

Carolyn Clift, who taught at the school at the time of the alleged abuse, said she had worked with all of the teachers and frequented all of the classrooms. She said she couldn’t picture the teachers doing any of the things described in the complaint.

“I would say it’s pretty much impossible, especially when you say several teachers, because all of the teachers in that school had the best interests of all the children and their parents,” Clift said.

In 2011, Shaha pleaded no contest to one count of child abuse in connection to an incident at Baxter Elementary School. The Anchorage Police Department claimed Shaha hit the victim in the head with an open hand. The case was dismissed July 29, 2011 after Shaha satisfied the conditions of a deferred sentencing agreement.

Shaha did not return requests for comment.

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Information from: Alaska Dispatch News, https://www.adn.com

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