Omaha World Herald, June 15, 2020

Assault By Ex-Teacher
OPS Board to consider $625,000 settlement

District’s insurance carrier would pay family of one of at least 6 students molested at Fontenelle Elementary

The board of the Omaha Public Schools is set Monday to consider a $625,000 settlement with the family of a student assaulted by a former district elementary school teacher.

The settlement, which would be would be paid by the district’s insurance carrier, relate to assaults committed by Gregory Sedlacek, who is now serving 40 to 65 years in prison for molesting six students at Fontenelle Elementary School.

Sedlacek was arrested in November 2018 after teachers saw him with his hand up the dress of a first grader on the playground. Interviews later revealed that he had assaulted at least six students, ages 6 and 7, in classrooms and on the playground at the school. At least three claims were filed against the district in the wake of Sedlacek’s arrest, alleging that the district, through negligence, had failed to protect students from the predatory teacher.

The claims said the district failed to properly vet Sedlacek before hiring him in 2016. He had earlier been fired from a school district on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota for excessively hugging and tickling students. He also had been dismissed from a seminary after church officials had learned of the South Dakota firing.

The claims also alleged that the district failed to train staff to spot Sedlacek’s grooming behavior and that the district’s policies on reporting abuse did not conform with state law.

Eric Nelson, the principal at Fontenelle at the time of Sedlacek’s assaults, resigned his position and earlier this year pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failure to report child abuse.

The mediated settlement to be considered by the OPS board Monday night is between the district and one victim’s father, on behalf of both himself and the child.

The attorney representing the father and child has said that the 7-year-old suffered night terrors and other emotional issues and that the father wants to make sure the girl’s future needs are taken care of. Under the agreement, a conservatorship will be established on behalf of the child, which would need to be approved by a Douglas County judge.