By MARC VALERO
SEBRING — A settlement offer from The School Board of Highlands County has been accepted on behalf of a student who attended Avon Park Middle School and suffered “emotional distress and injuries” due to incidents at the school, according to a court document.
Morgan & Morgan law firm attorney Adam Kemp filed a civil negligence lawsuit in November against the school district on behalf of a 13-year-old female student who was the alleged victim of then-teacher Kevin Dewberry over the time period of Oct. 1, 2017 through Feb. 4, 2018.
The complaint claimed the district was negligent for allowing the student to enter and remain in a classroom with Dewberry alone and unsupervised. Furthermore, it claimed the district negligently failed to intercede in the ongoing sexual assaults of which the student was a victim when the district knew or should have known of the misconduct.
On Thursday, a petition was filed to approve the settlement of a minor and a petition was filed to appoint a guardian ad litem.
Tampa attorney Robert Hines filed the petition to approve the settlement, which states that an offer of a settlement has been made by Highlands County School Board (the defendant) and the terms of said settlement will be disclosed at the hearing to approve.
Prior to Thursday’s action on the case docket, the last activity was on May 14 with the school district’s response to the plaintiff’s second request to produce.
An attempt at mediation on April 3 reached no agreement in the lawsuit.
There was no response on the court docket to a previous settlement offer filed April 19 from The School Board of Highlands County.
On June 3, former school district teacher and basketball coach Dewberry, 45, accepted a plea deal giving him a 25-year prison sentence followed by 20 years of probation and the designation as a sexual predator.
Dewberry pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery, custodial authority.
He is currently incarcerated at the Mayo Correctional Institution Annex in Mayo (Lafayette County) with a current release date of Feb. 20, 2043.