A lawsuit filed by the parents of a 5-year-old student who was sexually abused by her teacher will move forward against Lorena Independent School District and Principal April Jewell.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Alan Albright denied motions to dismiss brought by the district and Jewell.

Albright adopted recommendations made last month by Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Manske to reject the defendants’ claims that they should not be held responsible for the crimes.

Manske concluded in a 15-page report that Jewell’s lack of executive action to protect pre-K children from a teacher’s continuous sexual abuse “shocks the conscience.”

According to the lawsuit filed last year by the victim’s parents, Jewell ignored months of warnings from multiple school employees about inappropriate behavior by the teacher, Nicolas Scot Crenshaw, toward two of his female students.

Crenshaw eventually pleaded guilty to multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault of a young child and other sex crimes against the students and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

The crimes occurred during the 2020-2021 academic year.

Crenshaw was a long-term substitute teacher at Lorena Primary School, where Jewell was—and still is—the principal.

The lawsuit alleges that despite all the red flags, Jewell and other Lorena ISD employees never investigated Crenshaw’s behavior or notified the victim’s parents, law enforcement, or CPS about the reports of Crenshaw’s behavior.

In denying the motions to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Albright rejected Jewell’s claims of qualified immunity, which shields government employees from civil liability for claims under federal law unless their conduct “violates a clearly established constitutional right.”

He also rejected the district’s claim that it is not liable for employees’ actions.

Meanwhile, local families remain shocked by what happened within their school system and say the ongoing lack of accountability has shattered their trust.

Lorena mom Jessica Montez started an online petition demanding Jewell’s resignation as “a first step towards restoring confidence among parents and students alike.”

Parents can speak at the next school board meeting, scheduled for June 10.

Lorena ISD residents may also contact school board trustees directly.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.