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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 118649
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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Hello I am wondering if I have a case or not and can sue my

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Hello I am wondering if I have a case or not and can sue my son's private school for damages. My son who is 8 years old ( now 3rd grade) was recently hospitalized due to severe stomach pain. After a wide range of tests it was determined that it was due to an accumulation of stress. In 1st grade he was repeatedly hit, slapped and kicked at every recess by a boy in his class. We reported it to the school every time and the answer was that he was too sensitive. He went to the school psychologist to learn to stand up for himself for months and nothing worked to make it stop until an administrative employee witnessed the violence of the attack and intervened. The school finally addressed, at the end of the year, the issue with the parents of the bully and at that point the boy stopped hitting our son. Since then, our son has felt helpless and fragile. In 2nd grade the school then decided to put in place a very poorly defined award ceremony which rewards some kids for being outstanding leaders, our son expressed anxiety towards this event because of his shattered self confidence and was found in tears after each events. We asked the school if it could find a solution for him not to attend that event but the answer was no. The assistant principal also refused to place him in a class with a friend for no good reason as a result he was isolated and lonely at the same time we also reported several instances of verbal bullying and no actions were taken. Our son ended up in the hospital in march of 2013 for 6 days on morphine and the final diagnostic was accumulated stress. He is still very fragile. we believe that the actions and inactions of the school are the factor that led to this.
Can we sue the school for damages? Please let me know.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

If the school has not enforced the anti-bullying policy as they are required to do by the CA state laws, then you could have sued them for non-enforcement of the policy as required and sought damages for that. However, you did not file suit at the time and the school did finally take action and the statute of limitations was 1 year, which has expired I am sorry to state.

As far as the award ceremonies, I am afraid that would not give rise to a cause of action against the school at this point, because while you asked the school for him not to attend because of his fragile ego, the school was not obligated to provide any reasonable accommodation unless you made a written request under the Americans With Disabilities Act with proof of his medical reports from his doctor explaining his condition and why being excused from these ceremonies would be reasonable to accommodate his mental health disability (this type of stress is considered a disability).

However, what you can do is take action now to make the school accommodate him in the future and set yourself up for suing them in the future if they refuse to comply. You need to start with a report from the doctor describing his disability and how it permanently impairs a major life function for your son and to describe what accommodations your son requires in school to continue attendance. Then you need to take that report and file a written request for a reasonable accommodation with the school under the Americans with Disabilities Act and also under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act and ask the court to put in place an IEP or 504 plan to accommodate your son's disability as they are required to do by law.

If the school refuses your request, THEN you can indeed sue them for violation of his rights under the ADA and IDEA.

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