District officials have reversed the suspension of a Santa Rosa High School junior who was beaten by two other girls in a video-recorded fight that sparked a lawsuit, her parents said Tuesday.
Alia Kanihan, 16, was assaulted in May by two Analy High School girls who came on campus to settle a dispute over a boy, said Kanihan’s father, Allen Danley.
The video shows Kanihan defending herself against one of the girls before both of them began pounding on her with their fists. A crowd of students looked on.
The school’s assistant principal, Danielle Valente, responded in part by suspending Kanihan for two days. Her parents appealed, saying the action was unfair and would affect their daughter’s ability to get accepted into a college dormitory.
The suspension was upheld on appeal, but district officials launched their own investigation and concluded there was reason to remove the suspension from the girl’s records.
Among other things, the probe by Santa Rosa private investigator Chris Reynolds found school officials failed to properly investigate the fight and didn’t give Kanihan a chance to tell her side of the story, either in the initial investigation or a suspension appeal hearing.
Danley said his family felt vindicated.
“We never were going to accept the suspension, ever,” he said. “We were going to do whatever it took to get it off her record.”
A letter from Jason Lea, the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, confirmed the decision.
Lea noted employee disciplinary action “has or will be taken.” Also, he wrote that Valente will be directed not to engage in any retaliatory conduct against the girl or her family for bringing the complaint forward.
Lea did not respond Tuesday to an email seeking comment.
In his small-claims lawsuit, Danley originally had sought $10,000 in damages from the families of the other girls. He said Tuesday he was in talks to “forgive” the lawsuit altogether.