PENNINGTON — A former middle school student intends to sue the Hopewell Valley Regional School District for $10 million over a teacher whose sexual advances she claims to have had to fend off with a pencil.

Hopewell Valley schools superintendent Thomas Smith said in a written statement responding to questions about the litigation that the school was aware of the accusations first made in November 2018 and removed Amantia from the classroom.

The accusations were reported to the Department of Child Protection and Permanency's Division of Institutional Abuse and the Hopewell Township Police Department, which notified the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, according to Smith.

"Several independent, governmental investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing by the staff member and he was reinstated to the classroom," Smith said in an email, adding that "we have followed all appropriate protocols and procedures regarding this matter."

NJ.com reported that according to a notice of tort claim, Timberland Middle School teacher Mark Amantia in the spring of 2017 locked the girl in a classroom and exposed himself, pushed her up against a wall and tried to pull down her pants. She got away only after stabbing him with a pencil, the litigation claims.

One time, Amantia held the girl from behind in the school cafeteria and refused to let her go as he continued to massage her neck, according to the claim, which is the first step in filing a lawsuit agains a public entity in the state.

The school guidance counselor failed to keep a promise to talk to Amantia and said that the social studies teacher had a tendency to be "friendly," according to the claim.

The girl suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of Amantia, according to the claim.

Smith said that any student "who needs help processing this information, we encourage you to contact your child’s principal."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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