Anger at Prosper ISD meeting over lawsuit about alleged child molester

A packed house at Prosper ISD Monday days after a lawsuit claimed the district did little to protect two girls from a predator.

Some district parents expressed outrage because they say they still don't know whether their children were also on the school bus driven by Frank Paniagua.

Paniagua committed suicide while in custody for continued sex abuse of a child. It's alleged he assaulted two very young girls every morning while they rode his bus.

The board spoke in private right as the meeting started, and it stayed that way for more than an hour. 

The district says it took swift action once the allegations were presented. But parents say they didn’t learn about the allegations until just a few days ago. 

Parents and community members packed Monday night’s Prosper ISD school board meeting with a lot of questions. 

Parents sue Prosper ISD, alleging bus driver sexually abused their daughters

Many in the crowd wore blue ribbons symbolizing child abuse awareness.

 It comes less than a week after a lawsuit was filed against prosper ISD claiming the district failed to protect two sisters from a sexually abusive bus driver.

"How many things have to be swept under the rug before the reputation comes second to our children’s wellbeing," one parent said.

One parent identified herself as having a son also on the same bus. 

"Why was I never contacted," she said. "My child could’ve come in contact with a child molester."

The lawsuit claims Prosper ISD employees missed clear signs of abuse and claims the district tried to keep the allegations out of the media. 

It states Paniagua assaulted the two elementary students, 5 and 7 at the time, every morning they rode the bus totaling more than 100 times last school year. According to the lawsuit, surveillance video caught the abuse.

Prosper mother Hillary Morabito says parents were never notified of the allegations or Paniagua’s arrest until she learned about the lawsuit last week three months after the district and police launched an investigation. 

"I am extremely disappointed in the lack of transparency due to the distrust mishandling of this tragic event," she said.

"It starts all the way from the top," said parent Pat Cochrane. "So there is systemic leadership failure. That’s what I see this as." 

Cochrane had a kid who went to school in Prosper ISD. He and others at Monday’s meeting are asking for an independent investigation into how the district has handled this situation. 

In a prepared statement after a 90-minute closed session, the board revealed an outside firm will step in. The announcement met with applause. 

"We want to come together and make sure this doesn’t happen again and our children are safe," Morabito said.

Paniagua was arrested in May. He committed suicide while in Collin County custody and died in June.

Parents were pleased with the announcement of the independent investigation, but they are still calling on the superintendent to be fired.