2nd case related to sex scandal in Plum schools settled for $275K
Plum school board last week approved the settlement of a second federal court case filed by a victim of a former teacher who is in prison for having sex with students in 2015.
The district will pay $200,000 and Plum borough will pay $75,000 — each through insurance carriers — to settle the case involving the actions of Jason Cooper. Former teachers Cooper, Joseph Ruggieri and Michael Cinefra all pleaded guilty last year and are serving prison sentences for having sex with students.
“We're happy to move forward, move on and get the district turned around in the right direction,” school board President Steve Schlauch said.
The school board and borough, which is named in the lawsuits because it employed a school resource officer in the district, approved a $300,000 settlement with another of the victims in the scandal in September. The district agreed to pay $225,000 via its insurance provider and the borough paid the remaining $75,000 through its carrier. The borough on Nov. 13 approved the second settlement, Borough Manager Mike Thomas said.
Victims in the cases are identified only as “Jane Doe.”
The Jane Doe in that case filed a civil rights lawsuit in September 2016 that said Plum school officials knew about allegations of sex abuse but did nothing for more than three years, allegedly allowing Ruggieri to keep preying on female students.
The victim said she was 17 when Ruggieri began having sex with her.
A grand jury report blamed school administrators for passively allowing years of inappropriate conduct between teachers and female students.
District and borough Solicitor Bruce Dice did not return a phone call seeking comment about the lawsuits or settlements.
The victim in the second case alleged in January the district violated her right to due process by failing to investigate rumors of inappropriate contact between teachers and students and charged negligence on the part of former high school Principal Ryan Kociela, former Superintendent Timothy Glasspool, Cooper and former school resource officer Mark Kost.
Attorney Craig Fishman, who represents the victim in Cooper's case, did not return a phone call for comment.
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.