School officials lying about my son...

by Travis
(New York State)

I received a phone call from my 12 year old son's guidance counselor, who spoke to me about a dream my son had that involved a dead teacher. The teacher in his dream had recently called my sons names, his friends names, and was said he was glad a student got punched in the mouth because the student "deserved it".

Later that evening, an investigator from the DA's office, a Child Protective Worker, and two village police officers arrive at my apartment to take my son to crisis and possibly press charges against him. They stated that he had threatened to kill a teacher.

I refused their entry into my home because I knew this to be false. After they left (an hour and a half later after being told six times to leave, and after they mentioned numerous times in my apartment building's main hallway why they were there) my son and I emailed his guidance counselor and asked why he was now saying my son made a threat to kill a teacher.

He responded that he had relayed my son's dream to the school principal, who I believe is the one who turned it into a death threat. Both my sons' and my response from the guidance counselor confirmed what had been discussed. My son called him a liar and the guidance counselor replied he hadn't lied.

I later emailed the superintendent of schools and asked if my son had made a threat against a teacher, why was he allowed to leave the office and return to the school setting? My son was suspended by the principal and she told me that if I didn't have him evaluated by mental health she would call CPS on me.

Four days later I met with the school principal, and for a brief time the superintendent and guidance counselor. I was then given a plain piece of paper with my son's statements on it that now stated he had threatened to kill a teacher. This was totally opposite previous conversations and email confirmation of the first discussion. I was dismayed.

The paper was not on official school letterhead and had no signatures or dates other than "Statements made by (my son) on X date." I still have yet to receive any paperwork on this at all from the school. No notice of suspension, disciple report, etc.

I really believe that the principal jumped to conclusions about my son's dream and, knowing she made a false report, the school officials are trying to sweep it under the rug to protect themselves.

Do I have a case for defamation or would it be like fighting city hall?

The only thing that came our of it was I was told the school would do an internal investigation into my sons' and other students' claims about a teacher calling them names.

The guidance counselor is the Dignity Act Coordinator, who by law is to act quickly and effectively, something he didn't do because he knew what was said by my son, he knew our conversation, and confirmed our conversation. After my son had done his mental health evaluation he was cleared to go back to school.

I then received a phone call from the principal who asked if I had checked my son's back pack for weapons as some teachers were now afraid of my son. I firmly told her to drop it because I had the emails to confirm what my son had said to his counselor and what was said to me when he called.

She immediately asked about the emails as she had no knowledge of them. I told her I could forward them to her or she could get them from the guidance counselor. She seemed very nervous. Is there any higher-ups I can complain to about this? Do I have to get an attorney to protect my sons from this discrimination by school officials?

Thank you for any information you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "School officials lying about my son...":

Travis (New York State):

From the facts you present you don't have the basis of a defamation claim.

Defamation is the making of a false statement about another person to a third party which causes that person to suffer harm. Defamation can be in the form of slander or libel. Slander involves the making of defamatory statements orally, as opposed to libel, which involves a written statement.

The first issue concerns whether or not the statements made about your son were false. That issue would have to be resolved before considering a claim for slander. The second issue is whether or not your son suffered "harm." At this point there doesn't appear to be any documented harm.

The third issue is discrimination. For there to be a case of discrimination you would need to prove your son suffered discrimination based on:

-Marital status
-National origin
-Religion, and
-Sexual orientation

That doesn't appear to be the case.

You'd be well advised to speak with an attorney in your area, but from the facts you presented, you don't appear to have a viable cause of action.

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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