A second federal lawsuit has been filed claiming the Okaloosa County School Board, Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson and others tolerated “a historical pattern and practice” of abuse of disabled students and took action to avoid its detection.

Attorney Ryan Molaghan with the Tallahassee firm of Brooks LeBoeuf Bennett Foster Gwartney, filed the lawsuit Sept. 28 on behalf of an unnamed minor (C.H.) and his parents, who were also referred to by their initials.

The same legal group is representing Eddie Perillo and his son Noah, who sued the School Board, Jackson and others in March. Perillo's lawsuit asserts many of the same claims as the family of C.H.

Both lawsuits seek more than $75,000 in compensatory damages for each of 12 counts of alleged wrongdoing and also request punitive damages.

The C.H. lawsuit may not be the last filed against Jackson and the School Board. In a letter sent Sept. 21 to First Judicial Circuit State Attorney Bill Eddins concerning “Okaloosa County abuse cases” Brooks LeBoeuf Bennett Foster Gwartney claims to represent a total of five children and their families.

C.H., the new lawsuit states, was a 12-year-old, non-verbal autistic child who attended Silver Sands School in 2014 and was placed in the care of teacher Roy Frazier.

“On numerous occasions during 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years, Frazier pushed, slapped, punched and kicked non-verbal disabled ESE students, including C.H., resulting in injuries to them,” the lawsuit states. Among the abuses inflicted upon C.H, it states, was a punch “so hard in his chest that it echoed across the hallway.”

The Florida Department of Education confirmed many findings of alleged abuse perpetrated by Frazier after the School District had honored him upon retirement. The Department of Education revoked his teaching certificate on June 29, 2017.

The lawsuit alleges that after the chest punch was reported, district administrators “purposely named a wrong child so that the Department of Children and Families would not investigate the child victim, C.H., Frazier had punched.”

It claims that during an investigation into Frazier’s actions, which ultimately resulted in a three-day suspension, an administrative assistant at Silver Sands School told aides to report all abuse allegations to the school principal. This was “pursuant to a policy and/or practice of concealing the abuse and intentionally circumvent mandatory reporting requirements,” the lawsuit states.

Florida law calls for school staff, as mandatory reporters, to report any witnessed child abuse directly to a state Department of Children and Families hotline.

The C.H. lawsuit alleges 12 violations against some or all of the parties named. It cites three counts of unreasonable seizure, three of excessive force, two of conspiracy to interfere with civil rights, one of discrimination in violation with the American Disabilities Act and one with a violation of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

It names as defendants, along with the School Board and Jackson, Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley, Stacie Smith, Arden Farley, Frazier, Alan Lambert, Jon Williams, Jean Hennion and John and Jane Does 1-30.

Lambert and Williams are, respectively, former and current Silver Sands principals. It is alleged in the suit both men knew of Frazier’s abuses and took no action.

Hennion, listed in the lawsuit as a “school district paraprofessional” acted alongside Frazier and participated in abusing children, the lawsuit states. It alleges one instance in which Hennion duct-taped a student to a desk.

Ashley, as head of the Sheriff’s Office, is being sued for his school resource officers’ failure to report, or efforts to ignore or cover up, child abuse allegations at both Kenwood Elementary and Silver Sands School.

The Sheriff’s Office, along with school administrators “had knowledge of the abuse upon non-verbal, disabled ESE students” and helped conceal it as part of “a long-standing custom, policy and or practice,” the lawsuit states.

Molaghan said a primary focus of the lawsuit is to force changes to the School District's policies and procedures.

“The School District either allowed these things to happen or failed to take proper precautions to prevent them,” he said. “From our firm’s perspective, one of the reasons we want to shine light on this is to get these policies and procedures corrected so these things do not go on in the future.”

Shortly after the conclusion of the Frazier investigation, the suit states, the School Board, Jackson, her former Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Stacie Smith and District Investigator Arden Farley learned of allegations of child abuse perpetrated at Kenwood Elementary by Pre-K D teacher Marlynn Stillions.

“Twenty employees expressed grave concerns about Stillions behavior with children,” the lawsuit states. “Kenwood employees were told not to speak about Stillions.”

The administrative order that employees not speak was “intended to intimidate Kenwood employees and further conceal the multi-year pattern of abuse against non-verbal disabled ESE students,” it said.

Perillo’s son, Noah, was abused by Stillions at Kenwood, according to Sheriff’s Office arrest reports. She was taken into custody Sept. 13, 2017, and is scheduled to go to trial Monday on four counts of child abuse.

The C.H. lawsuit repeats a claim made in the Perillo suit that the School District actively engaged in efforts to prevent Eddie Perillo from seeing a report compiled by Farley. The report confirmed findings Stillions had physically mistreated children in her care.