School District Litigation Realities

By Perry A. Zirkel

Victoria Timm is a student in your school district. Fondly nicknamed “Vic,” she is blind due to a sudden attack in class with a Sharpie pen. The attacker was a student with emotional disturbance whose individualized education plan (IEP) provided for mainstreaming, or inclusion, with the regular education students.

Vic’s attacker apparently struck out in frustration during a practice exam in preparation for the upcoming reading test mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act. The teacher was at the other end of the classroom checking on a group of advanced readers who instead were practicing for the math exam.

After the attack, Vic’s parents filed suit in state court, claiming that the district had been negligent and thus owed them money damages for her loss of sight.

This scenario may sound familiar to school board members and personnel in public schools. In today’s litigious world, you have reason to perceive that such negligence cases for student injury are on the rise and that the odds of a favorable judicial outcome are slim.

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