Seventh Circuit Rules in Favor of District in Case Filed by Special Education Support Teacher

by Franczek Radelet P.C.
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In Jackson v. Indian Prairie School District the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that the School District did not violate a special education support teacher’s substantive due process rights when the School District refused to transfer an autistic student, who was known to have violent outbursts, from the teacher’s classroom even though the teacher was ultimately injured when she attempted to stop the student from throwing a chair.

Jackson began her employment with the School District in 2002 as a special education support teacher. As a special education support teacher, Jackson was responsible for aiding the general education teachers by providing enhanced support for students who qualified for special programming due to a mental or physical disability. In 2005, Jackson was assigned to White Eagle Elementary School, a general education building, and was responsible for working with student W.K., who was eligible for special education services under the “autism” disability category, based on his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome.

At the start of the 2005-2006 school year, W.K. was in second grade. It was documented in W.K.’s IEP that parents and staff observed ongoing behavioral concerns, that W.K. had difficulty with impulse control, and difficulty handling his frustration. W.K. was prone to erratic and violent behaviors. Throughout the school year, W.K. engaged in multiple incidents of aggression towards staff and other students. Among these acts, W.K. pushed a student, stabbed a student with a pencil, threw items at teachers, called teachers names, and on one occasion, kicked, punched and bit Jackson when she was attempting to stop him from running into the street.

Throughout the 2006-2007 school year, Jackson expressed frustration at W.K.’s disruptive and violent episodes, which included hitting and scratching himself and others and kicking and throwing objects at other students and teachers. In March of 2007, Jackson requested that a different support teacher be assigned to W.K., her request was ultimately denied.

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