Lawsuit filed against APS, teacher accused of sexually assaulting second graders

Education

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of a young girl is suing Albuquerque Public Schools after they say the district failed to protect the child from sexual abuse by her teacher during school. Multiple young students have come forward, accusing Danny Aldaz of sexually assaulting them while in his second-grade class. Now, the family of one of the alleged victims is taking matters into their own hands, with a lawsuit filed today.

“Albuquerque Public Schools is very much at fault,” said Gail Stewart, an attorney representing the victim’s family. “In terms of the atmosphere, Mr. Aldaz was allowed to sexually abuse children including the classroom and the lax Title IX policies.”

According to attorneys, a then-7-year-old second-grader at Valle Vista Elementary reported the assault nearly two years ago, stating her teacher, Danny Aldaz, exposed himself multiple times. Parents say in the time since, the district did not keep them posted on any investigations into Aldaz and fostered an environment allowing sexual abuse to occur — from the layout of the classroom where Aldaz reportedly covered a storage area to remain hidden where the alleged abuse occurred, to not enforcing federal policies designed to protect children from sexual violence.

“Title IX under federal law would protect students from sex discrimination and harassment including sexual violence,” said Stewart. “Albuquerque Public Schools does not have a system that’s compliant with Title IX’s expectations for the protection of children.”

Since this alleged victim came forward, at least three other former students of Aldaz have also reported similar abuses when he taught at Valle Vista and, before then, Helen Cordero, dating back to at least 2013. Attorneys say the district knew of wrongdoings but kept him in the classroom until early 2020.

“The concern is that there were a lot of steps or failure to take steps by the Albuquerque Public Schools that certainly could’ve prevented this child’s injuries because she did not have the teacher until the 2019-20 school year,” said Stewart. “As we know from the criminal complaint, in Bernalillo County, another student came forward alleging similar sexual abuse from the same teacher over many years. Had Albuquerque Public Schools investigated, acted on observations prior to the ’19-20 school year, this child would presumably not had that teacher. It’s really sad when it seems like there was a long history that was not attended to by the Albuquerque Public Schools and part of that is that they don’t have the policies to be looking out for this.”

According to the lawsuit, Aldaz is still licensed through the New Mexico Public Education Department. As for the most recent allegations against Aldaz, he has pleaded not guilty. That trial is scheduled for June 2022.

KRQE News 13 reached out to APS to find out why Aldaz was allowed to be in a classroom for so long when allegations dated back to 2013. They declined to comment on pending litigation.

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