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Parents clash with Prosper school board after bus driver accused of sexually assaulting young students more than 100 times

Last Thursday, a Prosper ISD family sued the district, alleging a bus driver sexually assaulted two young sisters over the course of a school year.

PROSPER, Texas — A line of outraged parents snaked out the door of the Prosper ISD administration building Monday night as board members from the district held their first meeting since a school bus driver was accused of sexually assaulting two young sisters over the course of a school year. 

Last week, a lawsuit was filed against Prosper ISD by a family that has two young girls in the district and unearthed the allegations widely for the first time. 

They alleged that former driver Frank Paniagua abused the two young sisters more than 100 times during their bus routes. 

Attorneys representing the family are asking parents to come forward if Paniagua targeted any of their children.

On Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., those same attorneys will be available for consulting and questions at the McCathern Law Firm in Frisco, One Cowboys Way Suite 175. 

The Prosper ISD school board has since hired an independent law firm to review and investigate the district's response to the allegations and overall situation. 

The two girls, who are not named in the suit, rode the bus three to four times per week. The abuse, per the suit, happened when the two girls were in kindergarten and first grade.

The ages of the children at the time were 5 and 7. The suit says that Paniagua always made a point to drop the children off last, mainly when the abuse occurred.

The lawsuit says Paniagua always blamed route delays on the girls, saying they were helping him pick up trash. 

Per attorneys representing the family, the district was aware of the abuse around May 7 of this year when the girls informed their parents of what was happening. 

The attorneys told WFAA that the mother immediately informed Prosper ISD and the transportation department. 

Per the attorneys, Paniagua was asked not to come into work on May 9. 

On May 11, the attorneys say Paniagua was arrested on child sexual abuse charges due to bus cameras capturing some of the abuse. 

The abuse occurred from the end of September 2021 through May 4, per the attorneys. 

Paniagua has since died after trying to take his own life in the Collin County Jail. His death is currently under investigation, per the sheriff's office. 

The district has said publicly that it took quick action by firing Paniagua after the allegations were made but didn't comment further due to pending litigation.

The suit lays blame at the feet of the district, saying it was negligent and should have caught the abuse. 

It expressly points on the first few pages to teachers in the drop-off lines and their inability to realize that the girls were spending additional minutes on the bus after it arrived. 

Before public comment on Monday night, the board announced that an independent law firm had been hired to investigate the district's response to the abuse. 

"We understand and share the community's outrage over the allegations," Board President Drew Wilborn.

"What does it mean to those little girls? Innocence lost. What does it mean to the parents? Trust betrayed. The district knows this happened, and they haven’t sent out any kind of notice to the parents of the kids who rode the bus with this monster," Levi McCathern and Kristin Hecker, attorneys for the victims, said. 

Parents furiously spoke during the meeting's public comment portion. 

Many stated they were oblivious to the accusations until a lawsuit was filed and news coverage followed. 

At one point, thunderous applause followed one parent's request for Superintendent Holly Ferguson to resign. 

Lindsey Rios, a parent whose son rode on Paniagua's routes, spoke passionately before the board. 

Her most significant complaint centered around information being held back from parents like her after the arrest. 

"Are their reputations more important than our children's safety?" Rios asked.

"I knew Mr. Frank well, I got my son off the bus every day and put him on the bus. I feel like I knew Mr. Frank. There's more to this story; they thought this would go away, and that's my biggest concern."

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