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Sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Allegan Co. school district settled

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice announced Wednesday it has reached a settlement in a lawsuit against an Allegan County school district.

The lawsuit alleged the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency subjected two female teachers to sexual harassment and a hostile work environment at Hillsdale Learning Center.

Former principal Jonathan Garcia was accused of subjecting the teachers to both physical harassment and sexual assault, including forcing one of them to perform oral sex on two different occasions. Garcia was later convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving staff members.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced an agreement for the AAESA to pay the teachers $450,000 in compensation.

The district will also have to review and advise its anti-discrimination policies, as well as implement policies to protect its employees from discrimination and sexual harassment.

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