Teacher made my autistic, asthmatic son run laps as punishment...

by Daniel
(Ducktown, TN)

My son was born with heart and lung problems. He has been on home school since kindergarten. We tried letting him go to public school this year. He is 8 years old. He had several notes from the doctor stating he needed rest often. He has severe asthma and had an emergency inhaler at school.

He had to miss a lot of school due to his illness. We went to great lengths to make sure his teacher, principal, and staff knew of his condition and the special care he needs. He also has autism.

One day he had a question about his work and his teacher ignored him. He asked a student beside him and got in trouble for speaking in class. As punishment his teacher made him run laps, even though he knew my son can't walk far without giving out and needing rest.

My son went into an asthma attack while running and begged to go get his inhaler at the office. The teacher would not let him stop until all laps were done then he had to make his way alone to get his inhaler.

We took him to the doctor afterward because he wasn't eating. His doctor said he was wheezing so bad that he couldn't eat due to lack of oxygen. We put him back on home school and have been arguing with the school ever since. The school held us accountable for absences and went against doctor's orders.

The doctor fixed all the proper paperwork to protect my son from absences due to illness. He had a doctor's excuse for every day missed. I was unaware until we were summoned, but the school didn't allow the paperwork from the doctor to go through.

What can we do about all this? Can we file a case against the school? Or make an official complaint? The school, through the teacher, knowingly put my son in danger? Any information you can give would be appreciated. Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Teacher made my autistic, asthmatic son run laps as punishment...":

Daniel (Ducktown, TN):

The school’s actions in putting your son in danger were wrong, and could have resulted in a serious injury. Fortunately, it appears there was no injury. The act of putting your son in danger, in and of itself, does not constitute the basis of a personal injury claim.

Because the school knew, or should have known about your son’s medical condition, if your son had been injured, or his health problems were exacerbated because of the school's failure to protect him, then you would have had the basis of a personal injury claim against the school district.

At this point, if you want to persist, you can file a complaint with the school district. To do so, write a letter or call the superintendent here:

Polk County School District Superintendent
131 Stephens Street
Benton, Tennessee 37307

Telephone #: 423-299-0471

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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