Deep In The Heart of Texas
We already know Texas is a different land. It imposed a limit on the number of children with disabilities it would serve. Got itself smacked by the US Office of Education, in and of itself, a miracle given Betsy DeVos is in charge.
But this case might be a new low even for Texas.
An elementary aged child with autism repeatedly came home with bruises, abrasions and contusions over a two-year period in her school. On more than one occasion, the parents took their child to the hospital or her physician for treatment of the injuries. The parents reported the injuries to school officials. First, the school personnel said that the injuries were self-inflicted. Later these same officials said the injuries were caused by other students. Finally, a staff member ultimately admitted to hurting the child.
The parents went to court and sued the school district and the employee who acknowledged the behavior. The parents sued for assault, infliction of emotional distress, disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act,(ADA) and constitutional rights violations.
The parents lost on all counts. Why you ask? Partly because the case was filed in Texas.
The Court granted qualified immunity to the school district and to the employee because it felt the hospital records and doctors’ visits were vague and there was no evidence that the employee has caused the particular injuries for which the child was treated.
Then there was the issue of emotional distress. In Texas there is a law that if someone sues a government agency, the employees of that agency cannot also be sued. So since the family sued the school district the employee was off the hook for his responsibility.
Next the school district claimed that the assault charge was an intentional tort under Texas law and that the state would need to waive sovereign immunity in order for the case to proceed, which the state refused to do. So, the court dismissed that charge.
Lastly, the district said that the ADA claim should have been made under IDEA and that the parents had not exhausted the administrative remedies under IDEA. The Court agreed with this reasoning as well.
Therefore, none of the claims survived and the case was dismissed.
How do these things happen? In Maryland a licensed educator who was physically aggressive towards a student would lose his/her license. Maybe the issue is that Texas no matter how deeply you go doesn’t have a heart. I would think that teacher might want to think again about supporting open carry and gun laws in Texas. If that were my kid being hurt like that and nothing was being done about it… Just sayin’