A Friday the 13th Story for the Sheesh-O-Meter.

Imagine this: one set of parents (the Pontrellis) is so upset about the behavior of a child in your school (J.W.) that they go to court and get a TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) to remove J.W. from your school.  Then the parents of J.W. sue the school over this. 

That’s what happened this year in Seattle.  It all came after a stormy year of complaints by the Pontrellis, that their daughter was bullied by J.W.  Some of their complaints were substantiated by the school and some were not.  Dissatisfied with the school’s response, the Pontrellis went to court and found a judge who signed off on the TRO.  Then the other family sued the district. 

The court was sympathetic to the school district caught in the middle of this tug of war:

Given the court order that J.W. be excluded, the District did not act in bad faith or with deliberate indifference in following that order.  Moreover, the record contains numerous indications that the District attempted to challenge the exclusion or lessen the impact on J.W.’s education. The District provided tutoring for J.W. during this time, and provided multiple District witnesses to testify on J.W.’s behalf in further TRO hearings.

The Pontrellis were not parties to this suit, but the court had a few things to say about them:

As for the Pontrellis themselves, Plaintiff fails to cite authority imposing liability on school districts for the actions of other students’ parents. 

There is also little indication the Pontrellis’ actions, while shockingly insensitive to J.W.’s disability, were directed at J.W. because of his disability.  There is little evidence that the District encouraged in any way the Pontrellis unfortunate and misguided attempt to obtain a restraining order against J.W. excluding him from school.

It may have been “unfortunate and misguided” but a local judge issued that TRO at the request of the Pontrellis and then extended it for a further period of time. The original TRO was issued on February 7, 2014; it was re-issued on February 18 and was quashed after a hearing on February 25th.  And that’s the case of Wong v. Seattle School District, decided by the federal district court for the Western District of Washington on June 7, 2019.  We found it at 74 IDELR 155 (W.D. Wash. 2019).


Enjoy your weekend, Readers. The Dawg barks again on Monday.