Our “win” for five special needs school children and their parents or guardians was featured in today’s Cincinnati Enquirer. Read that story here.
In 2010 and 2011, our clients were several multi-handicapped, developmentally-disabled, special needs children in Columbia Elementary School of the Kings Local School District. Most were wheelchair-bound.
A teacher in that special needs classroom told her aides she derived a “perverse pleasure” in tormenting the kids, emotionally and physically. An aide in that classroom heroically and repeatedly reported the abusive behavior to the principal and assistant principal at Kings, and they ignored those reports. Other school personnel, including the librarian, also reported the abuse to school leaders. Again, no corrective measures were taken. Amazingly, the assistant principal walked into the classroom and personally witnessed the abuse, and did nothing about it.
The teacher then went directly to the Board of Education, which adjourned into executive session to hear her report of the abuse in order to to keep the accusations secret. Finally, the teacher submitted her resignation and threatened to report the abuse to the media, and the school board acted.
Unfortunately, their actions were to take nine depositions of the witnesses to the abuse. They then paid the abusive teacher a five-figure cash award to resign, and they gave her a glowing letter of recommendation to help convince her to leave. The District never told the parents that their children were abused.
Our firm was first contacted about obtaining public records relating to the abuse. The District refused to produce the transcripts of the depositions, trying to shield the abuse from public disclosure.
The focus of the school district and their attorneys was covering up the abusive conduct, not protecting these children — and more children that might be abused by this teacher going forward at a new school.
Next, we were retained by these five parents vindicate their rights of these children who were subject to this abuse.
After two and a half years of litigation, the case has finally settled. But unfortunately, the settlement involves money only. It was not practical to force the District to effectuate changes in procedures or management as a part of that change.
That settlement was the topic of today’s Enquirer story.