Federal Way Public Schools headquarters. File photo

Federal Way Public Schools headquarters. File photo

$425K settlement paid in Federal Way school district sex scandal lawsuit

$3.5 million tort claim was filed against basketball coach and district in 2018.

A former Federal Way High School student who sued former basketball coach Jerome Collins and Federal Way Public Schools for allegedly covering up a sex scandal has received a $425,000 settlement, according to documents obtained by the Mirror.

In 2018, former FWHS student Tally Thomas accused Collins for intentionally covering up a sex scandal to save the school’s chance of a basketball state championship in 2016 and filed a $3.5 million tort claim against the school district. The case was dismissed on June 17 this year.

Two years ago, Collins was placed on administrative leave after the district launched a third-party investigation into the claims. The district found Collins “violated the reasonable expectation of a professional educator when he failed to further investigate facts presented to him of alleged student misconduct in 2016,” according to a Sept. 15 statement to the Mirror.

Due to the findings of the investigation, the district stripped Collins of his coaching abilities “for the foreseeable future” and removed him from his teaching position at Federal Way High School. Collins is now a physical education teacher at Brigadoon Elementary School in the district.

According to the settlement agreement, both Thomas and Collins agreed to drop all claims, and the settlement does not serve as “an admission of liability or wrongdoing” by Collins or the district.

The settlement also notes Thomas received $425,000. Funds were to be provided to Thomas via III Branches Law, the firm representing Thomas, within 21 days of May 27.

The settlement is not funded out of the district’s general education budget, said Kassie Swenson, chief of communications and strategy for FWPS.

“Like all school districts, there is insurance to cover litigation and settlement costs,” she said. “Any settlement amounts are determined through confidential, independent mediation involving the insurance company and legal representation.”

The documents also say if contacted by media regarding the settlement, all involved parties are to state the litigation was “amicably resolved without admission of liability or wrongdoing by Mr. Collins or the District in this matter” with no further comment.

In the tort claim, Thomas, now 21, alleged that former FWHS basketball player Jalen McDaniels videotaped her “against her will and without her knowledge performing oral sex on a unnamed Federal Way High School basketball player and that the recording was viewed by several other students,” the Mirror reported in 2018. “The claim also alleged that head basketball coach, Jerome Collins, was aware of this incident, had watched the video in question, and failed to report the situation to the authorities.”

According to King County Superior Court documents, the case has been dismissed because the recording of Thomas took place in a private apartment after school hours, away from district property and had no connection to the district.

While the incident itself did not take place on school grounds, at least two meetings between Collins, Thomas, her parents, McDaniels, the other student-athlete suspect, and the boys’ parents took place at Federal Way High School on or about Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, and Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in which school officials were not alerted about the meeting at the school, court documents state.

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