Son’s Expulsion from Colorado School Leads to Lawsuit

PUEBLO WEST, Colo. – The parents of a high school junior expelled for an assault that occurred in December have filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming their son’s right to an education has been obstructed.

Stacie Taravella and Glen Fillmore filed the lawsuit on behalf of their son Zach Fillmore, who was expelled from Pueblo West High School, a School District 70 institution, in January for as many as 365 days.

The student currently attends Futures Academy, an alternative school in the district. There, he cannot participate in any extracurricular activities. At Pueblo West, Fillmore played football and baseball.

Fillmore was expelled after he and another student allegedly attacked someone believed to have bullied a freshman student. The victim suffered a broken jaw and had several teeth knocked out. In a 4-1 vote, the school board expelled both Fillmore and the other student involved in the attack.

In the lawsuit, Fillmore’s parents declare that District 70’s director of pupil services, Greg Keasling did not allow to Fillmore to partake in the three-step process to appeal Keasling’s recommendation for expulsion.

The parents claim Keasling informed the student of the appeals process, which includes first going to the assistant superintendent, followed by the superintendent and finally the school board. Instead, the suit states, the first two steps were eliminated from the process by Keasling.

Additionally, the lawsuit states the school board had not provided a copy of the record it used to determine Fillmore’s expulsion to Fillmore, his parents or his attorney. It also argues Fillmore’s rights under state law have been breached and not protected by the school board.

The lawsuit further claims Fillmore’s absence from school will continue to cause him permanent damage if he is not enrolled back into school immediately.

Fillmore and the second suspect involved in the attack, along with two additional students involved in the bullying incident are being charged with third-degree assault as juveniles.

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