Lawsuit: Florida mom says school-issued laptop had no safety feature to prevent grooming, sexual abuse

A Central Florida mother has filed a lawsuit against the Orange County school board alleging that it was negligent when it issued her daughter a school laptop that did not have safety features that prevented students from accessing social media websites, as the board advertised. 

As a result, the mother claims her 6th grader was groomed by a man on social media and eventually kidnapped and sexually abused by him. The school board's response, "or lack thereof," to her daughter's assault, made it clear the risk of similar incidents happening to other underage students left in the board's care, the lawsuit filed on Monday stated. 

The mother is also seeking monetary damages after she suffered emotional pain and humiliation because of the board's alleged negligence.

According to the lawsuit, in 2020, the school board issued the child a laptop to be used for virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mother believed the laptop had software installed to block access to social media as the district made known through its online websites and in a section on cyber security in its handbook, the lawsuit claimed.


Around September 2020, a 26-year-old man began contacting the woman's daughter via social media on the school laptop that was used during school hours and on school days.

The man reportedly lured the girl into leaving her home to be with him, with intentions of taking the child out of state and made promises to buy her a new iPhone. 

The mother claimed she had no knowledge of the laptop's reported lack of security features until Sept. 25, 2020, about 12 hours before the man kidnapped her child on Sept. 26, leaving little time for her to inform law enforcement.  

The child became the center of a statewide AMBER Alert. 

The lawsuit alleged the school board failed to ensure the child's parent had access to the school laptop and without access, she couldn't unlock the laptop to help police with their investigation in finding her daughter. 

The man was arrested later that same day and the child was found in Santa Rosa County, the suit stated. During the time between the child being kidnapped and found, the child had been sexually assaulted, the lawsuit stated.

After the incident, the mother said she asked the school board for other non-electronic education options, so her daughter could continue her education, but the lawsuit alleged the school board did not provide other options and instead told her to transfer her child to an alternative educational setting for troubled high schoolers.

The lawsuit stated that the school board's employees failed to address the incident according to proper Title IX regulations. 

Due to the board's alleged failure to train its employees, the lawsuit claimed the daughter and mother's constitutional rights were violated, including the right to equal education and the right to be free from sexual assault.

FOX 35 News contacted the school board for comment, and a spokesperson replied,"While the district does not comment on pending or potential litigation, all School Board Policy information can be found on the district website."