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Fairbanks school district to pay $920,000 settlement to alleged sex abuse victim’s family Weston Morrow wmorrow@newsminer.com Dec 2, 2014

Updated at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday

FAIRBANKS — The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District will pay $920,000 to the family of a student who allegedly was raped by a tutor at Hutchison High School last school year.

Hutchison tutor Claude Fowlkes III was arrested in March on allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, which allegedly took place during several months last school year.

The agreement was reached after a nine-hour mediation session Monday in Seattle between lawyers for both sides. The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board approved the deal in a meeting Tuesday evening with Assistant Borough Attorney Jill Dolan, who has been representing the district.

The borough’s insurance will cover $670,000 of the cost, leaving $250,000 for the school district to cover.

The settlement is meant to resolve a civil lawsuit filed against the district by attorney Michael Kramer representing family of the victim. It must be approved by the judge presiding over the lawsuit.

“While this financial settlement cannot undue the pain endured by this young man, it can provide them some small comfort and long-term security during their difficult recovery,” Kramer wrote in an email.

The majority of the settlement will go into a trust to help cover the cost of the victim’s future educational and counseling needs, according to Kramer. He said the settlement would not affect the education budget.

“This case highlighted some systemic problems within the district and provided the impetus for changes necessary to protect our children,” Kramer wrote. “All of us who currently have children in public schools can be comforted knowing the district has made significant institutional and personnel changes that will help ensure that those mistakes are not repeated.”

School board President Heidi Haas said the district would continue to improve its methods for investigating allegations against employees.

“The board will continue its efforts to ensure it has an effective system in place for handling allegations of employee misconduct,” Haas said after the agreement.

The two sides agreed to enter into mediation several months ago. Before the mediation, the school district rejected a $1.4 million settlement request from the victim’s family. The family rejected a $270,000 settlement offer from the district.

Contact staff writer

Weston Morrow at 459-7520. Follow him on Twitter:

@FDNMschools.

Contact staff writer Weston Morrow at 459-7520. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMschools.