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Special Education and American Law

In: Business and Management

Submitted By dianeh110
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The major legal issues, case law, and arguments, are investigated as a parent of a special needs student fosters a complaint that her daughter is subjected to harassment on the school bus by fellow students. This case study questions whether the lack of concern from the bus driver and negligence from the school district was the essential catalyst of her daughters’ harassment, torment, and sexual abuse. After several incidents of unsupervised abuse, the mother criticized the school bus driver the harassment rendered; however, there was little to none action taken against the other students that ultimately elevated her blouse and exposed her bare breasts. The legal issues relevant to this case study are student harassment, negligence, abuse, tort liability; breach of duty, injury, and causation, and a distinct lack of concern from the school district.

Special Need Student Case Summary/Evaluation You are the principal of an elementary school. It’s Monday morning and a parent of a special needs student complains that her daughter is being harassed on the school bus by fellow students because she has Down Syndrome. Students on the bus, including a couple of other special education students, are calling her dumb, slow, slope head, and other degrading names. Her daughter is crying each night and doesn’t want to return to school. The mother has complained to the bus driver before and he has done nothing. The last straw was that these same kids pulled her daughter’s blouse up and exposed her breasts. The mother is calling the homes of the students harassing her daughter and threatening to sue them. The mother is also saying that she’s going to sue the bus driver, you, and the school district for lack of supervision and for not protecting her daughter.
Major Legal Issues Corresponding to Case Study The relevant legal issues to this case are negligence, abuse, and tort liability; breach of duty; misfeasance, injury and causation. For one, does a school district, a principal, or bus driver have the professional right to disregard intentional harassment and bullying in order to prevent legal action? In doing so, are the school officials infringing upon the students rights as a citizen of the United States of America and member of their school district. As for tort liability through civil claims, can the principal be held liable for breach of duty; misfeasance for failing to provide a duty of care toward the student, or a breach of duty for continuous neglect. Can the principal be held liable for the injury resulting from the special needs students torment and repetitive, unnecessary sexual abuse?

Major Case Law Governing the Issues The major legal issues of this case study address: negligence of student’s harassment, inability to provide sufficient fortification and proper duty of care of school rules/regulations. In this case, the responsible action of duty care should have been to strictly discipline the wrongful students for their unlawful criminal acts. The mother, who serves as the plaintiff in this case, of the special needs student, is providing substantial evidence that the bus driver and principal were aware of such treatment and were not proactive in this circumstance. The special needs students faced constant deliberate harassment incessantly while under the care and supervision of this particular bus driver. The plaintiff is seeking reprimand the bus driver, principal and ultimately the school district by pressing charges for inadequate duty of care as well as suing the students (parents of) that stimulated this unfortunate defamation of self worth.
Arguing a Position What is Title IX? Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is the landmark legislation that bans sex discrimination in schools, whether it be in academics or athletics. Title IX states: "No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid." Title IX governs the overall equity of treatment and opportunity in athletics while giving schools the flexibility to choose sports based on student body interest, geographic influence, budget restraints, and gender ratio. In other words, it is not a matter of women being able to participate in wrestling or that exactly the same amount of money is spent per women's and men's basketball player. Instead, the focus is on the necessity for women to have equal opportunities as men on a whole, not on an individual basis. While many resources have been specifically for intercollegiate sports, the general components of the Title IX apply to sexual discrimination and educational equality. I believe that the defense would successfully argue and win their case if Title IX is utilized as the primary argument of abandonment and the bus driver failure to implement and exercise proper duty of care. Even after, the plaintiff acknowledge the unlawful behavior to the bus driver, he fell short in providing a safe, secure atmosphere on the school bus. As parents render over their children every school year to receive a fundamentally sound education, they are expecting faculty, staff, and the school district to suitably educate them and shield them from harmful actions.
Synthesis for Weakness in Argument
Given that the student is special needs and will most likely suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after this case is won, the court should consider implementing forceful laws against sexual harassment, bullying, and deliberate disregard. The defense team can unequivocally place full blame on the bus driver for not enforcing sufficient supervision and discipline. Secondly, any previous conditions related to the student’s behavior or academic placement with respect to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 may become a factor. While the case itself does not necessarily make this factor known, and the major case law primarily focuses on specific incidents, these federal statues could potentially come in to play if the incident in the case if found to be an extension of ongoing abuse or discrimination toward the student.

Avoidance and Prevention of Litigation
Experts in a variety of school related litigation matters brings us to the sad realization that some school officials simply fail to practice effective management skills which can result in placing students in harm’s way. Such behavior can also result in unwanted and undesirable litigation. Parents send their children to school believing they will be safe and well supervised, and expect that effective learning will be the end result. These are reasonable parental and student expectations. Our recent experiences as litigation consultants often make us question whether some schools are fulfilling those expectations. Cases similar to the one examined, are familiar experiences to defense or plaintiff attorneys, prompting school officials to alert, inform, train, and prepare their staff for the litigious world in which they work. Such actions are particularly important when it comes to school injury accidents and sexual harassment issues. Furthermore, schools should consider advocating policy to require school officials to report any case of abuse, physical altercation, or harassment immediately following the incident, if a policy does not already exist in that school’s bylaws. In doing so, the school district can document the extent of any injury. Lastly, the school must make its policy clear to students and parents within the student handbook.

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