We send our children to school expecting that they will be kept safe and protected. And sometimes the people we trust to do the job fail to do just that. Maybe because they get complacent, sloppy, or worst of all because they stop caring. And when that happens, it’s important to call out the responsible parties.
That’s what happened Thursday, May 11, 2023, in a courtroom in Kern County Superior Court. A jury in a civil lawsuit against the Kern High School District, California’s largest 9-12 school district, was held liable for failing to protect a special needs child.
The facts are these: a 16-year-old special education student with a documented history of aggressive behavior had a one-on-one aide assigned to closely and constantly supervise him. His aide left him unattended while she left for her lunch break. She claimed she had turned him over to another aide. That other aide, however, claimed that she never did so. The unattended special needs student pushed another special needs child into a restroom where he locked the door and assaulted the other special needs student. The staff heard yells for help but had no key to open the bathroom.
The assaulted student was autistic. Meaning he did not have the ability to process or cope with the emotional trauma. The assault ultimately resulted in a diagnosis of PTSD. A condition that will stay with this student for the rest of his life.
At trial, the school district downplayed and minimized the trauma. The story from one teacher was that he didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
The highest offer by the school district and its insurance company was $250,000.
The jury’s response was a verdict of $2,350,000.
Daniel Rodriguez, founding partner at Rodriguez & Associates, along with attorneys Victoria Harp and Jefferson Eberhardt, made up the trial team that earned this result on behalf of the student and his family.
Rodriguez & Associates is recognized as one of the top firms in California, holding more multi-million dollar verdicts than any other law firm in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, and representing clients in a variety of cases ranging from school bullying to catastrophic injury.
Congratulations to the entire trial team for a verdict well earned!