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Former student files suit against School Board

The family of a former Land O'Lakes High student who said she had a relationship last year with the school's assistant principal at the time has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the Pasco County School Board.

Also named as defendants in the federal suit are the then-assistant principal, Norm Weaver, former Superintendent Tom Weightman and the high school principal, Albert Bashaw.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tampa, says school and district administrators knew or should have known about the relationship and failed to take action to stop it.

The student, whose name is being withheld by the Times due to the nature of the lawsuit, told investigators last year that Weaver, then 52, had a relationship with her when she was a 17-year-old senior at the school.

Weaver and the student said they met at a Hillsborough County park, but their stories diverge from there. The student told police that they met numerous times there, kissing, embracing and fondling.

Weaver, however, told authorities they met at the park only once, and he denied any physical contact.

No criminal charges were ever filed against Weaver, who had an unblemished 18-year career in Pasco schools. He was transferred from the high school and now works as a supervisor at the School Board's Planning and Facilities Department.

"Frankly, parents have a right to expect that, when they send their children to a school environment, it be safe and nurturing," said the family's attorney, John Johnson. "They don't expect behavior like this."

Weaver did not return a call for comment Thursday. An attorney for the School Board said he could not comment until the board provided him with a copy of the suit.

Weaver befriended the student as early as the fall 1993, and from her sophomore year, the two met almost daily, the suit says. By her junior year, the two began giving each other gifts and Weaver displayed pictures of the student in his office, the suit says.

In spring 1995, her mother, a substitute teacher at the school, became concerned about the relationship and approached Weaver to tell him it was inappropriate.

By February 1996, a teacher overheard the girl and Weaver making a dinner date and reported the conversation to Bashaw, according to the suit. Weaver was directed by the principal to stay away from the student, the suit says.

The suit, which does not name specific monetary damages, then accuses Weaver of meeting with her at the Hillsborough park on numerous occasions and says the two kissed, caressed and fondled. After that point, the suit says, Weaver continued to tell her that he wanted to have sex with her, though they never did.

In April 1996, school officials said they were tipped off to the relationship by an anonymous caller. The Sheriff's Office investigated but no charges were filed.

_ Information from Times files was used in this report.