Parents Win $1M for Teacher’s Abuse of Special Needs Son
Parents of a boy who was physically abused by his special education teacher won a $1 million jury award against the school district.
Terrence Rideau was a severely disabled special education student in Texas public school. In April 2010, his parents suspected abuse and formally filed a complaint for the school district and child protective services to investigate. That investigation turned up evidence that Terrence’s teachers and other staff physically abused the boy and didn’t properly lift and move him.
Terrence has mental and physical disabilities caused when, as an infant, he was given medicine he was allergic to.
The Rideau’s lawsuit alleged that the school district was responsible for its teachers conduct that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A federal jury found the school liable for Terrence’s injuries that included broken bones, cuts and other trauma, and awarded the boy, who is now 16 years old, $1 million for physical pain, mental suffering and past and future medical costs.
“This verdict sends a significant message to school districts that they will be held responsible for the supervision of their teachers and the care and nurturing of special needs students,” said the parents’ attorney, Michael K. Hurst, of the law firm Gruber Hurst Johansen Hail Shank in Dallas.
Terrence’s mother, Breggett, has lobbied for a state law that would require cameras in special needs classrooms.
“This has never been about the money, but about raising awareness among school systems administrators and the public that we need to do a better job of protecting our children,” she said. “We’re enhancing security every day for our schools, and cameras in these classrooms should be a part of that effort.”