VINELAND — Months after her former teacher was sentenced to two years of probation for child abuse, the Vineland student at the center of the case is suing the school district, alleging neglect in a federal lawsuit filed Nov. 10.
Richard Super, 36, of Vineland, was sentenced in July for sending sexually explicit emails to a 13-year-old girl student.
The case stemmed from a June 2016 investigation by police and the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. As part of a plea agreement signed in May, Super forfeited his teaching certification and public office within the state of New Jersey.
The lawsuit, filed by the student’s guardian, seeks trial by jury and damages. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs are the D’Amato Law Firm in Egg Harbor Township and Soloff and Zervanso of Cherry Hill. The names of the plaintiffs are not listed in the complaint, to protect the student’s identity.
Superintendent Mary Gruccio was not available for comment Tuesday. Vineland schools Executive Director of Personnel Joseph Rossi said the district had not received a copy of the lawsuit.
“The district has dutifully provided OPRA-based documentation to plaintiff’s attorney. As in any such matter, we shall proceed under the guidance of legal counsel,” Rossi said.
Attorney Paul D’Amato said the suit is intended to help protect more students from becoming victims of sexual abuse.
“While the ex-teacher has been prosecuted, the full measure of justice requires that those who failed to protect this young, vulnerable victim — who is emotionally scarred for life — be held accountable. We hope to ensure that what happened to our client never happens again,” D’Amato said.
Attorneys for the plaintiff believe the eight-count suit is the first complaint of its kind, alleging the school district should have identified the teacher’s pattern of electronic conduct using email monitoring software already installed on its own server.
Additionally, the suit alleges the school administration, including Gruccio, knew about Super’s misconduct, including the inappropriate relationship, sexual harassment and the teacher’s tendency to bring the student breakfast, sit with her at lunch and visit her in gym class.
According to the complaint, the school district failed to provide a hostility-free environment and protect the plaintiff-victim from harm under federal and state discrimination laws.