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Published: Friday, 5/7/2010

Fostoria schools are sued by ex-student

BOWLING GREEN - A former Fostoria Middle School student who was accused - then cleared - of trying to set a fire at school has sued the Fostoria school district and several administrators.

Tyra K. Settles, who was 14 at the time of the May, 2008, fire, along with her grandmother and legal guardian, Peggy Barchus, and her mother, Rachel Barchus, filed the complaint this week in Wood County Common Pleas Court seeking more than $1 million in damages.

The lawsuit says Miss Settles was charged with complicity to commit aggravated arson and complicity to inducing panic - felony-level charges later dismissed by the county Prosecutor's Office.

The suit accuses the district of disregarding the girl's reputation as well as her emotional, mental, and physical health. The district "was negligent, reckless, and reflected a total disregard for the present and future well-being … of the falsely accused minor child," the complaint states.

Attorney Gene Murray said he did not want to comment extensively because of the age of the plaintiff.

"The lawsuit is what it is," he said. "We intend to prove the allegations contained in the lawsuit, and the monetary judgments demanded are commensurate with what we intend to prove were the damages suffered."

Interim Fostoria Schools Superintendent Rick Heintschel also said he could not comment while the suit worked its way through the judicial process. He said there was no real damage to the school from the fire.

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