Can I Sue the School District for Emotional Distress?

by Elise
(Bayside, New York)

I have a child that was promoted to the next grade level by the district superintendent and 10 days later I was verbally told they rescinded on this offer. I never received anything in writing until the day before the school year began.

I've since learned my daughter's Individualized Education Program (IEP) was violated by her previous school. My child currently with a learning disability now suffers from an anxiety disorder, emotional distress and anger issues. She never had any of these symptoms until this ordeal with her school occurred.

Not only is my child suffering but as a family we are being torn apart. My child has physical outbursts and at times has harmed her sisters and parents. She sees a therapist and is currently on medication. All of this anguish has been extremely difficult on my family (both in time and money). This emotional anguish we are all suffering from her problems was brought on my the New York City school superintendent. I have many more facts that attain to my child's case.

My question is: Can I sue the school for the mistakes that were made on my child's case? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Can I Sue the School District for Emotional Distress?":


Suing a school district is very difficult in any case. Even more difficult is prevailing. From the facts you present it is clear your daughter has suffered greatly. It is also clear her family has as well.

Suing a governmental agency in New York City is different than suing one outside of the City but within the State of New York. In the City of New York your suit has to begin with what is called a “Notice of Claim”. After that there are a myriad of legal pleadings to be filed and deadlines which cannot be missed for fear of dismissal of the entire case with prejudice.

“With prejudice” means you cannot have a “do over.” You’re out and the case is over.

The General Municipal Law Section 50-(e) is the controlling statute in a claim against an NYC School District. The School District is considered by law to be a Public and a Municipal Corporation and if you are going to sue them the lawsuit must be filed in the New York State Supreme Court or local County Court.

If you were to prevail the law DOES NOT provide for an award of damages for Mental Anguish to a 3rd party. You would therefore be precluded from receiving compensation.

If you are intent on pursuing your claim you really must seek out a qualified Attorney who specializes in suing New York State and New York City Public and Municipal Corporations. Only with the professional help they can provide will your daughter have any chance of success.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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Comments for Can I Sue the School District for Emotional Distress?

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So true...
by: Anonymous

I agree with you. Teachers bully my son. Kids that can't go to school because of what teachers do and say don't have any help.

I'm in Taylor, Michigan and they don't understand that my child can't go to school. They say he won't come to school, instead of trying to find out why he isn't at school.

by: Anonymous

This frightens me. My son has been bullied by teachers and students, to the point where they even called DCF on us twice. My son suffers from a mental illness and cannot even go to school now because of the emotional distress.

So basically, a school can abuse a child and they don't even have to provide an education. My son is on an IEP and the school has offered nothing for support. They let him stay at home with no tutor or even another avenue.

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