ED311 LAUNCHES ITS ANNUAL “BACK TO SCHOOL” PROGRAM THIS WEEK WITH A WEBINAR ON WEDNESDAY FOCUSING ON COVID AND ALL THE LEGAL ISSUES THAT COME WITH IT. SIGN UP FOR THIS OR FOR ALL FOUR BTS SESSIONS AT WWW.ED311.COM. THE SCHEDULE IS AS FOLLOWS:
September 9: Covid
September 16: Title IX
September 23: Important Court Cases
September 30: Special Education Update
When district administrators were informed that a teacher had been mistreating some of the more seriously disabled students, the response was swift and forceful, including a CPS report and criminal charges. The teacher eventually plead guilty to those charges. The collective actions of the school administrators saved the school district from legal liability. More importantly, they prevented any further mistreatment of students.
Previous court cases have made the law in this area well established. The district is not legally liable for having employed someone who hurt children. The district faces liability only if the district’s policy or longstanding, well established and well known custom caused the injury. Obviously, that was not the case.
The court characterized the teacher’s actions as corporal punishment. Teachers can be liable for excessive corporal punishment both civilly and criminally. As noted above, this teacher was found guilty of a crime. If a state allows for such remedies against the teacher, the school district itself is not liable for excessive corporal punishment. Thus the court dismissed all claims against the district.
This case brought to mind the Texas law that permits parents of students who are served in self-contained classrooms to request that a camera be installed to monitor what is happening. That law is a well-intentioned effort to guarantee the safety of the students who are most vulnerable—those who are non-verbal and with limited cognitive ability. But it is not the most effective way to guarantee the safety of these students. The most effective way to do that is to: 1) be very careful about hiring staff to work in the self-contained classroom; 2) monitor that classroom personally, with frequent unannounced visits; and 3) cultivate a relationship with both teachers and the paraprofessionals so that they will speak up promptly if they see wrongdoing.
The case is Alcala v. Los Fresnos CISD, decided by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on August 20, 2020. I’m pleased to let you know that the Walsh Gallegos Law Firm brought a team effort to this one, headed up by Leandra Ortiz and Elizabeth Neally, with support from Katie Payne and Priscilla De La Garza.
DAWG BONE: CULTIVATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE STAFF IN THE LIFE SKILLS UNIT.
Tomorrow: Toolbox Tuesday!!