Wrongful death suit against Newburgh school district pending, along with 5 others, for student safety
Peter Cuacuas was a second grade special education student at Temple Hill Academy when he died in 2021 from malnutrition at just 37 pounds.
His dad and caretaker pleaded guilty in his death, but a pending lawsuit against the Newburgh Enlarged City School District says they’re to blame, too – for allegedly never notifying Child Protective Services that the 7-year-old missed weeks of online school before he died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
News 12 has learned the district also has five other active lawsuits, all for issues involving student safety.
Two are for bullying and student assaults that the district is accused of turning a blind eye to and allowing to happen. Two others allege kids got hurt after tripping and falling on unsafe pavement on school grounds, and one was for an injury on the bus.
Morgan Grange-Hanson is not involved in any district litigation but says she’s worried about how the it handles student safety, after her 8-year-old was allegedly kicked in the chest and punched in the face during two bus assaults in one day last month before she was notified.
“Nobody called me or his emergency contacts. They didn’t reach out to any of us and he was put back on the bus in the afternoon, which I never would have allowed,” Grange-Hanson says.
News 12 learned in November that there’s a loophole in the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) that doesn’t require districts, like Newburgh, to report of all of these incidents to the state.
State records show Newburgh said no assaults happened at the Newburgh Free Academy two years ago when News 12 reported on at least four.
The New York State Education Department says there’s requirements for a DASA report to be filed which is something parents say does little to protect kids.
A representative for the Newburgh Enlarged City School District said they have no comment on the lawsuits or the allegations.