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Morgan Hill School District Finalizes Settlement Over Child Molestations

MORGAN HILL (CBS SF) -- Attorneys for the Morgan Hill Unified School District and the families of three girls who were molested by a fifth-grade teacher between 2012 and 2014 finalized the non-monetary terms of a $8.25 million settlement Wednesday morning.

The three girls were molested at Paradise Valley Elementary School, where Hollister resident John Arthur Loyd would isolate them in a locked classroom with paper-covered windows during recess or lunch.

Along with paying each girl $2.75 million in a structured settlement, the school district will now be required to train its staff on how to identify possible predators and to teach students a sexual abuse prevention curriculum.

In 2015, Loyd, who was 53 at the time, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for four counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under age 14.

A fourth girl who Loyd allegedly assaulted at Nordstrom Elementary School in 2005 was unable to join the lawsuit due to the statute of limitations, according to Ed Vasquez, a spokesman for Robert Allard, whose legal team represented the girls' families.

Parents complained about Loyd's behavior to three different school principals between 2009 and 2013, but those complaints were never passed on to police or entered into his personnel file with the district, according to Allard.

Loyd was accused of giving candy to girls under desks, trading candy for hugs and "giving preferential treatment to girls," Allard said.

"There were breakdowns in this child protection system at all levels, from the policy level to the enforcement level and to the ground level," Allard said outside the courthouse Wednesday.

"In our view, if those breakdowns had not occurred, then these molestations would not have happened," he said.

Currently, mandatory reporter training is in place in school districts across the state, requiring staff to report suspected abuse.

"The hole in that is they're not trained to know what to look for as part of that suspicion," Allard said. "It's empty training, in our view.  There's a gap that has to be filled with the predator identification training to make it a complete training."

Allard said he would work with state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, to implement the training statewide.

"This case will continue until changes are made in this district, and we will use this case to illustrate statewide the need to implement this training in all schools in California," Allard said.

Vasquez said attorneys for the school district pushed back against implementing the training for staff and the curriculum for students because that could constitute admitting culpability.

Attorneys for the school district did not immediately return a request for comment.

While the agreement includes a standard provision stating that the district does not admit to any liability, Allard said the monetary side of the settlement makes a statement.

"That type of money would not be paid unless the district was concerned that the evidence that we've gathered over the last two years would paint it in such a light where, in our view, they clearly failed these three students of theirs," Allard said. "The money speaks for itself in that regard."

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