Suit over Allegan Co. principal sex abuse settled

Allegan County
Jonathan Garcia mug shot

An August 2016 mug shot of Jonathan Garcia from the Michigan Department of Corrections.

ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — The Allegan Area Educational Service Agency has settled the lawsuit it faced over how it handled complaints about a former principal who sexually assaulted two teachers.

AAESA has agreed to pay $450,000 to the two teachers, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a Wednesday release. It also agreed to review and revise its policies to better prevent sexual harassment, and train workers on reporting and responding to discrimination.

The Justice Department sued AAESA last year, saying it violated Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act by subjecting the two teachers to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

The two teachers were sexually assaulted and threatened by former Hillsdale Learning and Behavior Center principal Jonathan Garcia. The teachers said that they complained about Garcia as far back as 2014, but nothing changed.

The women ultimately went to police. Garcia was charged in early 2016, took a plea deal and was sentenced to prison later that year. Online Michigan Department of Corrections records show he was paroled in February of this year.

AAESA’s settlement with the Justice Department must still be approved by a federal judge.

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