Litigating Against Schools: State Administrative Remedies

When you feel your school has mistreated you – whether you're a student, parent, or employee – you likely wish to resolve the situation as quickly as possible while achieving the best possible outcome in your case. In some instances, this may mean taking legal action and suing your school – but before you sue, you likely have a legal obligation to pursue other avenues of resolution first. This includes exhausting what are known as administrative remedies.

An administrative remedy is a non-judicial solution provided by an organization that must be attempted before a court will consider your case. The doctrine of exhaustion of remedies ensures you cannot seek a remedy in court until you have used all available non-judicial options to resolve your case first. In short, you are obligated to work with your school to achieve a mutually acceptable outcome before taking the matter to court.

What Must You Prove to Sue a School?

Any type of school can be sued for a variety of reasons including discrimination, sexual harassment, child abuse, personal injuries, employment violations, unfair expulsion or suspension, special education, and stolen property. This includes public schools, private schools, elementary schools, high schools, colleges, and universities. In most cases, you must work with a school district or board to attempt to resolve any complaints before you can sue. This process often begins by filing an administrative complaint.

Additionally, you'll need to prove the allegations in your complaint are true. This includes gathering statements from witnesses, accessing security footage, and documenting any damages you may have suffered. After the district or institution has reviewed and investigated your case, they will likely offer you some sort of remedy. If you are not satisfied with their actions and all administrative options have been exhausted, at that point, you may move forward with suing the sc