Toolbox Tuesday: a Sheesh-O-Meter Case from Georgia

Today’s Toolbox case comes under the “don’t try this at home” category and scores high on the Dawg’s Sheesh-O-Meter.  It involved a teacher’s aide hanging a five-year old boy from the chalkboard in the classroom, much to the amusement of the other students. 

You read that right.  But wait….it gets worse.  In his statement about the incident the aide wrote that the hanging incident “was nothing different from the other times.”  A second statement from the aide described this as “the normal procedure.”

After investigating the matter, the school concluded that the aide “had failed to use proper de-escalation techniques.”  Do you think????

It may surprise our Loyal Daily Dawg Readers to hear that the suit over this incident was largely unsuccessful.  The boy and his grandma did obtain a judgment against the aide for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”  The court awarded $267,140.02 for this. But all of the other claims were dismissed by the district court and the dismissal was affirmed by the 11th Circuit. 

Many of the claims in this suit were based on the U.S. Constitution. The suit alleged that the district violated the 4th Amendment, the 8th, and the 14th. Without going into a lot of detail, I can just tell you that it’s tough for a parent to win on those constitutional grounds. Claims under state law, such as the one for intentional infliction of emotional distress, are more likely to succeed.

But the main point of today’s Daily Dawg is pretty obvious, wouldn’t you agree?  Let’s be careful with the hiring and training of teacher aides. 

It’s Harris v. Autry, decided by the 11th Circuit on February 9, 2022.  It’s published in Special Ed Connection at 80 IDELR 121.


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Tomorrow: related services in an IEP….