Parents say daughter did not drink on field trip, fight school district over suspension

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 8, 2011, 5:00am

TYLER - The parents of a Rusk High School student are suing the school after their daughter was suspended due to involvement in a drinking binge during a school sponsored trip.

Attorney Michael P. Wallace and Jill Wallace, as next friends of C.W., a minor, filed suit against Rusk Independent School District, Dr. James Largent, Scott Schwartz and Assistant Principal Jason Wilcox on Feb. 22 in Cherokee County District Court. The defendants removed the case to the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division on March 4.

According to the lawsuit, several students are accused of taking alcohol on a school-sponsored trip to attend a Future Farmers of American state convention on Feb. 17. While at the motel, several of the students allegedly consumed alcohol, with one high school student suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Shortly after the incident, without any notice of consequences, school representatives took written statements from all the students on the trip. The students were allegedly advised to confess or they would suffer more serious consequences.

Assistant Principal Wilcox told the students that any student who was involved with drinking or possessing alcohol was suspended for the next three days.

Wallace's daughter was suspended from school for three days and has been placed in a disciplinary alternative education program for the remainder of the school year. The parents argue that this punishment is without due process of law and is in direct violation of the Rusk ISD Student Code of Conduct.

They maintain that their daughter was handed a cup by another student, who represented the drink to be Sprite. Allegedly their daughter tasted the drink and determined that she did not like it and was not going to drink it. According to the court records, the drink contained Sprite and Vodka.

The plaintiffs argue that their daughter's punishment has labeled her as a criminal.

"Defendants have served as the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to the discipline that has been meted out against C.W," states the lawsuit.

The parents are asking the court to immediately issue a restraining order stopping the defendants from the suspension and the disciplinary program.

Plaintiff Michael P. Wallace is a partner in the law firm of Day and Wallace LLP in Jacksonville. The family is represented by R. Chris Day of Day and Wallace.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Schneider is assigned to the case.

Case No. 6:11-cv-00102

More News