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Father wants district to admit fault

Marine recruiter convicted of 2008 assault of daughter
By: Carol Feineman News Messenger Editor
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Rigo Avelar has been on a daily mission for two years. “It has been my life going through depositions, reading them, rereading them and proofreading my attorney’s filings,” Avelar said. “I’ve been fighting the school district to accept responsibility.” For the past two years, Avelar has said repeatedly that his stepdaughter did not have permission to leave school during lunch and that only he and his wife were allowed to sign her off campus. Avelar said that he and his wife were the only ones on his daughter’s emergency cards. “No student is allowed to be taken from a campus by anyone other than a parent unless that person is listed on the student’s emergency card on file at the office or has parental permission,” according to Mary Boyle in a June 10, 2010 deposition. Boyle, the school district’s deputy superintendent of educational services, was assistant superintendent of educational services in 2008. On June 30, the Superior Court of California dismissed the parents from a lawsuit filed May 2009 by Avelar, his wife and daughter against the Western Placer Unified School District. The lawsuit is still open with the daughter, according to the school district’s attorney Carol A. Wieckowski. “The parents were dismissed because the court found that they didn’t have any legal basis for suing the school district,” Wieckowski said. This week, Avelar said he will appeal. Avelar’s daughter was a Lincoln High School junior who was sexually assaulted by former Marine recruiter Victor Sanchez-Millan in 2008. The junior met the recruiter at a school job faire in April 2008 and left campus frequently that year during school hours with Sanchez-Millan. Through separate court proceedings, Sanchez-Millan pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and two felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor in a plea bargain Oct. 30, 2008 in Sacramento County. On Dec. 15, 2008, Sanchez-Millan was sentenced to one year in jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful sex with a minor. He was also required to register as a sex offender. Sanchez-Millan, in a Aug. 13, 2009 deposition for Avelar’s lawsuit, said that the high school junior did not have permission to leave campus. Under oath, Sanchez-Millan said that she “always hoped we don’t get stopped or checked because (she’s) not allowed to leave campus.” The Avelar family sued the school district in the May 2009 lawsuit for “failure to supervise” and “negligent infliction of emotional distress.” The recruiter and the junior left the school campus during lunch. She did not have permission by her parents to leave during the school day, according to Avelar, and only he or his wife were allowed to sign her out of school or class. “These things have to play themselves out in the court,” Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman said Monday. “They are allegations the parents are making. The evidence will be presented in court.” Avelar said he will go back to court “to ensure that it doesn’t happen again to another student.” Leaman said, though, that Lincoln High School is safe for students. “We’re very sensitive to kids being taken off campus. Schools are porous. The short answer is they can climb a fence, get through a fence. We take children’s safety very seriously,” Leaman said. “It doesn’t mean a child can’t get off campus. We don’t check parents as they come in the gate; that would be more reticent of a high-security base. That’s not what school is meant to be. Since last year, we have a full-time school resource officer. Security guards go around the school looking for things. During lunch, we do check and follow our policy.” During the past two years, and again this week, Avelar told The News Messenger that he “just wanted the school district to admit the truth.” “I told Principal David Butler, Assistant Superintendent Mary Boyle and Vice Principal Jan Smith many times, ‘I will sign anything you want,’ saying I wanted no money,” Avelar said. “I wanted them to say there was never a permission slip to leave campus, there was never a student ID card issued to her, let alone an off-campus pass.” Avelar said that he and Boyle and Butler wrote a statement together two weeks after the incident was made public in August 2008. “The statement said Lincoln High School made mistakes,” Avelar said, “that regrettably, this situation happened. It will never happen again; we will review our security. An apology – we’re sorry. Their statements before that were there was no breach in security; that they had investigated, which they never did; that no students would be able to leave the campus if they weren’t on the emergency card, that they would have a tighter policy with Marine recruiters on campus.” But, Avelar said, Boyle told him that the statement would have to be reviewed by their legal counsel. Boyle and Butler, in their lawsuit depositions taken on June 10 and May 27 of this year respectively, discuss that statement. In the deposition, Boyle said she “was not comfortable with” the statement. Avelar was disappointed. “They said they reviewed their policy and they made no mistakes,” Avelar said. “The evidence shows that’s not true. They’ve spent two years fighting that they do not owe parents a duty of care. But they haven’t spent one day fighting that the allegations are not true.”