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Accusation of sex abuse between kindergartners triggers lawsuit

A North Tonawanda mother's lawsuit against the North Tonawanda School District and a bus company says her son, a kindergarten student, was sexually abused and injured by another kindergartner during the 2015-16 school year.

Superintendent Gregory J. Woytila said Wednesday that the district will contest the lawsuit rather than try to settle it out of court.

"I guess there's two sides to every story," Woytila said. "Just because she filed a lawsuit and is moving forward doesn't mean that's what she says happened. The school district is confident in what it's doing at this point."

The lawsuit in State Supreme Court, filed June 23, seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

The mother contends her son was abused several times, both at Drake Elementary School and on a school bus. The court papers mention only one specific date, March 31, 2016, for an attack on a bus.

The lawsuit alleges negligence, recklessness and carelessness by the school district and Transpo Bus Services, the district's bus company at the time.

The suit accuses the district and bus company of failing to keep the boys apart, said J. Patrick Lennon, the mother's attorney.

"We're saying they either knew or should have known," Lennon said of the problem between the two children.

"We're dealing with two kindergartners. That the school district did nothing is not true," Woytila said. "We reported it to both parents when it was made known to us. We did counsel them. We have social workers and school counselors in the building that worked with each student."

Lennon said there were no bus monitors to prevent contact between the two boys on the bus.

"We don't always have aides on the buses, that's correct," Woytila said.

The Buffalo News is not publishing the name of either boy because of their ages and the nature of the allegation.

Woytila said both boys still attend North Tonawanda schools.

Transpo Bus Services declined to comment on the case.

Woytila said the company lost the busing contract when the district decided to bring busing in-house to save money, not for any reason pertaining to the legal case.

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