School Litigation - Child Abuse

Every student has the right to a safe learning environment. Parents put their faith in schools to maintain their children's safety. Unfortunately, school employees don't always hold up their end of the bargain. Students across the nation experience physical abuse, verbal harassment, and bullying while at school. In many cases, this abuse is preventable.

You can pursue litigation if your child is the victim of abuse. Your first instinct may be to take action against the teacher, faculty member, or student that committed the abuse. While this may be an option, pursuing litigation against the school might be your best option. Many parents have successfully sued for child abuse when schools fail to protect their children.

If you decide to take legal action, you must seek out an esteemed attorney. Using a lawyer can make all the difference in the success of your lawsuit. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped many families litigate against schools. He will use his experience and knowledge to give you the best chance at a favorable outcome.

What is Child Abuse?

Before pursuing litigation, you need to understand whether or not your child is a victim of abuse. In general, child abuse occurs when someone puts a child's safety at risk. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as “any act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation.” The definition also includes any act or failure to act which “presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”

Although federal law includes a clear-cut definition of child abuse, states may create their standards for criminal child abuse. You should consult with an attorney if you feel your child experienced abuse while at school. Your lawyer can help you understand the specific child abuse laws in your area.

How to Sue a School for Child Abuse

Although many parents have successfully sued schools for child abuse, it's not always an easy process. One reason why litigating against schools is difficult is sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a rule that prohibits people from taking legal action against any level of government, including public schools. This immunity protects schools from being sued except under specific conditions.

Fortunately, there are exceptions to this rule. State governments set the guidelines for which citizens can sue schools. In many cases, parents can sue if they can prove the abuse was due to the school or school district's negligence. Parents must typically meet other special requirements and go through a claim process before filing a lawsuit.

A lawyer can ensure that you meet all requirements before filing suit. Since sovereign immunity limits your ability to successfully sue schools, you must also work with an attorney to build your case. Even in clear cut cases of child abuse, you may find it difficult to win your lawsuit.

An attorney can collect evidence, gather witness statements, document the abuse, and lay the groundwork for your success. Many states also have a short statute of limitations for which you can litigate against schools. You should contact an attorney immediately if you want to move forward with litigation.

Reasons to Sue a School for Child Abuse

Although child abuse rules vary by state, parents across the country have collected damages for certain types of abuse. Here are some of the forms of child abuse that can lead to a successful lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment

The U.S. Department of Education prohibits gender-based discrimination in federally funded schools. The federal law Title IX states that sexual harassment is a form of sex-based discrimination. It also requires schools to adopt and publish grievance procedures for students to file complaints about sex discrimination. Title IX defines sexual harassment as sexual violence, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or nonverbal physical conduct of a sexual nature.

You can take legal action if you believe a school employee sexually harassed or abused your child. An attorney can help you seek damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, or emotional distress related to the abuse.

Discrimination

Is your student the victim of bullying? You may be able to sue the school for child abuse. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits public schools that receive federal funds from discriminating based on race, color, or national origin. The Americans with Disabilities Act also forbids disability discrimination in public schools.

You should pursue litigation if you believe a teacher, faculty member, or student discriminated against your child. It's important to note that courts have strict guidelines for discrimination lawsuits. You must show that the school failed to respond to the discrimination or that they put your child in danger. An attorney can help you identify grounds for discrimination.

Physical Abuse

Nineteen states allow some form of corporal punishment in schools. Although teachers and school faculty can physically discipline students in these states, they do not have the right to use excessive force. If your child experiences a serious injury at the hands of a school employee, you can sue the school — no matter the state. You can also sue a school if your child a fellow student or another person injures your student on school grounds. In this case, you'll need to prove the school was negligent and failed to protect your child from harm.

Your Experienced Attorney

Schools that fail to protect the safety of their students should face legal repercussions. If you want to pursue child abuse litigation against a school, you should contact an attorney right away. A knowledgeable attorney can help you build a case and achieve a favorable outcome.

Schools have many advantages that protect them from being sued, from sovereign immunity to access to experienced legal counsel. You need someone with legal expertise and acumen to get justice. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are here to help. He and his Firm have spent many years protecting students and pushing back against unfair treatment by schools. Attorney Joseph D. Lentp has helped countless students and parents around the country achieve the results they deserve. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website.  In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County.  In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County,  In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties.  Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law.  The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship.  The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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