Mentally disabled student sexually assaulted during school, suit alleges

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Jun. 7, 2010, 7:14am

The guardian of a Beaumont student with severe mental retardation claims the student was sexually assaulted while attending a school summer program.

The student and his guardian, Shirley Moss, filed suit against Beaumont Independent School District, Board of Trustees President Woodrow Reece and Superintendent Carrol A.Thomas on May 28 in the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas.

According to the suit, the student was sexually assaulted by another mentally retarded male student during a BISD extended school year program, a special education service to supplement the normal school year for students with disabilities. The complaint states that the plaintiff was taken to a hospital emergency room following the incident.

The plaintiffs accuse the defendants of violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by failing to properly monitor and supervise its teachers, staff, and students, including the plaintiff and the student who assaulted him. The defendants are also accused of deprivation of rights and negligence.

"Defendant's failure to properly monitor and supervise (the plaintiff) and the resulting sexual assault was a deliberate indifference to (his) constitutional rights," the lawsuit states.

Moss alleges the school never contacted her about the assault and failed to notify her that he was sexually assaulted at school.

At the time of the assault in June 2008, the plaintiff was nearly 20 years old, and Moss also accuses the district of not appropriately evaluating plaintiff's disabilities.

According to the suit, the school district and its employees did not take the necessary steps to determine if the scope and nature of the plaintiff's special education and related services should be altered. The plaintiffs claim that the school did not perform an adequate vocational evaluation, an adequate transitional evaluation nor a full individual evaluation.

Further, the plaintiffs state that defendants failed to involve the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services or the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for medical expenses; physical pain and mental anguish; damage to earning capacity; costs of four years of free appropriate public education; costs of remedial education, counseling and training; physical impairment; costs of services that should have been provided by DARS and MHMR; mental and emotional counseling; punitive damages; interest; attorney fees and costs.

Houston attorneys Beau A. Miller and Melanie D. Bean of Bean & Bean LLP are representing the plaintiffs.

Jury trial requested.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:10cv00308

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