Teen violence: Notice of Claim filed against Chandler school district; principal placed on leave

More fallout due to teen violence in the East Valley, as a school principal is now on leave, days after a $6 million Notice of Claim was filed against the Chandler Unified School District.

The Notice of Claim, which was filed on Feb. 12, accuses the district of gross negligence, saying the principal's stepson made threats to the victim, and was one of the attackers in an incident at a Gilbert In-N-Out on August 18, 2023. We are not naming the principal or the principal's stepson, because the stepson has not been charged as an adult.

The victim in the incident now lives overseas for his protection. The victim's father, Richard Kuehner, filed a notice of claim against the district, a school resource officer for the district, and Gilbert Police. Kuehner said he tried to address this with the school, but nothing was done.

"In [Kuehner's] case, he has tried every appropriate avenue from Day 1 to get his concerns and very real threats handled appropriately by the appropriate people - the police, the schools - and no one has protected him," said Billie Tarascio, a lawyer who has been following the teen violence investigations. It should be noted that Tarascio is not associated with any of the cases.


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A police report revealed a conversation between the principal, her stepson and investigators, who say the teen was involved in an attack at an In-N-Out in August 2023. When the teen was questioned by police for the second time about his alleged involvement in the assault, the principal said their stepson was being made a scapegoat. The principal also told police the media getting involved was the only reason their stepson was being charged.

"[The principal's] own words in response to handling detectives investigating a claim that her stepson was involved in were very, very damaging," said Tarascio.

The principal's stepson has been named in three civil court filings, with Kuehner filing two of them. A letter sent to parents says the principal is on leave, but did state the reason.

"Parents have known for a long time that this principal had ties to the Gilbert Goon situation, and have long been saying is it appropriate to have this principal in the position that she's in," said Tarascio.


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Gilbert Police officials said they cannot comment on any pending litigation. We have left voicemails and emails with the principal, but we have not heard back.

Officials with the Chandler Unified School District have released a statement, which reads:

Chandler Unified School District reaffirms its commitment that each of its students be educated in a safe, positive, and caring learning environment. Consistent with this commitment, the District does not tolerate threats, intimidation, or violence of any kind.  

The District is both appalled and saddened by the serious reports of threats and violence occurring within our community, particularly among our youth, and adds its voice to the collective chorus calling for an end to this violence. 

The District has the jurisdiction and authority to take disciplinary action in response to any District student who engages in threatening behavior on District campuses and properties, at school-sponsored events and activities, or when such misconduct interferes with the District’s ability to maintain order. The District also refers suspected criminal behavior to local law enforcement. 

Even in matters where the District lacks jurisdiction and authority to take disciplinary action, the District continues to work and cooperate with its community partners, including parents; the Chandler, Gilbert, and Queen Creek Police Departments; and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. These vital partnerships improve and strengthen our community.    

The District cannot comment on personnel matters. Nor can the District comment on matters that are the subject of pending litigation. When legally allowed, the District intends to address the significant misinformation now circulating on this topic. 

The District stands with all now engaged in addressing this issue. The District also encourages reports of any suspected threats and violence through its anonymous tip line Speak Up for Safety (480-573-8808 and speakup@cusd80.com).

Charges against juvenile in case "turned down," Gilbert PD say

On the night of Feb. 15, a spokesperson with the Gilbert Police Department said charges submitted earlier against a 16-year-old in the case were "turned down" by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

"Earlier this week, MCAO notified Gilbert PD that charges involving this juvenile were turned down," read a portion of the statement. "At this time, this is the only turn down that Gilbert PD has received for arrests on this investigation."

Gilbert Police referred all other inquiries on the matter to MCAO.