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Family claims Fairbanks school district at fault in sex abuse case By Weston Morrow / wmorrow@newsminer.com May 7, 2014

FAIRBANKS—The family of a student who was allegedly sexually abused by a tutor at Hutchison High School is pursuing a claim against the district.

The family claims the district may have ignored warning signs during the course of its employment of the tutor, Claude Fowlkes. Fowlkes was arrested in March and charged with six counts of sex abuse of a minor.

The family’s attorney, Michael Kramer, said the family is concerned there may have been other victims. Kramer said people like the accused “don’t just act once or pick out one victim.”

Kramer cited “grooming behavior” employed by Fowlkes, such as providing gifts or gift cards to students. Providing such favors to students is discouraged by district policy.

The school board is in the midst of an investigation into the district’s handling of the situation. Kramer said the board has not provided the family with any of its findings.

If the district did indeed ignore warning signs, Kramer said, “it needs to be publicized so that other parents in the district know what happened and can insist that the district make whatever changes need to be made to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Kramer alerted the school district of the claim several days ago but has not filed an official lawsuit.

The school board has announced another executive session to discuss the claim. That meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday and will also involve a separate discussion on the employment status of Superintendent Pete Lewis, who was placed on administrative leave by the board on April 7 while the district reviews how it handled the allegation about Fowlkes.

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