A woman in the middle of a legal battle with the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has died, and her daughters say they will continue the fight for what their mother saw as justice for her son and for other special education students without a voice.
Eileen Sofa died on April 14, soon after coming back from Washington, D.C., where she spoke to education leaders about the need to make schools safe for all children.
“She was mostly trying to speak out for kids who couldn't speak, and who are not like us,” Sofa’s daughter, Jahnella Alai, told NBC 7.
Earlier this year, Sofa filed a claim that alleged the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) failed to properly prevent or properly report an alleged sexual assault on her son in a Lincoln High School bathroom in 2016. In her claim, Sofa said school police failed to tell her “the true facts” of what happened to her son.
Sofa said school officials had told her a teacher’s aide walked into the bathroom just before her son had been assaulted, but in police and school reports obtained exclusively by NBC 7, the teacher’s aide reported seeing the student assault Sofa’s son. In a police report, the student admitted to sexually assaulting her son, saying he didn’t know why he did what he did.
SDUSD said it cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but before the claim was filed the district put out a statement that said, “School safety is a top priority and all protocols are followed when it comes to allegations of wrongdoing.”
Sofa, 45, leaves behind two daughters, her son and a husband of 24 years.
“We are going to finish what she started; we’re going to keep going until we get justice for people out there who don't have a voice to speak, and we're not going to give up,” Alai added.
Sofa’s family said her son, who graduated last year, has not been told about her death.
A teacher at Lincoln High who knows the family has set up a Gofundme page to help with funeral expenses.
Sofa’s death was related to underlying health issues.