The kind of lawyer you need to sue a school district should be well-versed in the education law of your state. They also need to understand the area of law you’re suing for, because you can sue a school district for multiple reasons. There are several requirements you must consider depending on your case, including:
- Whether you’re suing a public or private school
- What type of case you’re suing for
- If you exhausted all possible administrative remedies before the lawsuit
If you’re confused, don’t worry, because this guide may answer some of your questions before you meet with an attorney. You may have to hire multiple attorneys to cover all the bases of your lawsuit. Only your legal professional can answer questions specific to your case, but it helps to come prepared with this guide.
Where to Find a Lawyer to Sue a School District
The best way to find a lawyer to sue a school district would be through recommendations from friends, family, or trusted associates. If that isn’t an option, consult an online broker to find an attorney in your area. You can even use LegalASAP’s services to connect with an attorney in your state.
Be careful and research your attorneys extensively, and don’t be afraid to ask questions while you’re on the phone. You deserve the best legal team when you’re potentially suing a government-backed institution like a public school district.
How to Verify Your Attorney Before Suing a School District
You can ask your attorney what practice area they specialize in before hiring them. Ask how many cases they handle, and whether they have experience with education law. Even if they’re not certified in a specialty, they may have encountered your case several times in the past.
You can also look up whether your attorney passed the bar exam in your state through your local bar directories. Ask whether they received certifications from their school to practice education law including the practice area you’re suing for.
Additional Requirements to Sue a School
Suing a school district may require you to go through more hoops and obstacles compared to an ordinary lawsuit. Public and state schools are protected from certain lawsuits through sovereign immunity because they’re considered government entities. Your claim must fulfill two conditions to properly present your case to court:
- The government allows you to file your claim against the school for your specific damages
- The school allows you to bring your lawsuit
There are state exceptions to sovereign immunity that you should discuss with your attorney. Examples of cases that may constitute a lawsuit are:
- Sexual harassment cases involving a teacher
- Getting hurt from dangerous conditions in school grounds
- School bus accidents
- A lack of special education accommodation
Your state may also require you to file a formal complaint before pursuing a lawsuit. This complaint will give the school enough time to resolve the issue before lawyers get involved.
A formal complaint’s statute of limitations is often shorter than a lawsuit, so talk with your attorney about your state’s requirements before suing your school district. Finding a lawyer who can guide you through filing a complaint along with your state’s administrative remedies is key to getting your lawsuit started.
What Type of Lawsuits Can I File Against a School?
There are several types of lawsuits you can file against a school, but you need strong legal grounds for compensation. This means you must be significantly hurt or damaged and the school district is at-fault for your losses.
You can sue for personal injury if you were physically hurt, but even certain emotional distress claims qualify. You may not have physical injuries, but their negligence caused you great emotional harm deserving of compensation. It’s possible to even sue for employment reasons if you’re suffering a hostile work environment at school.
Below are multiple examples of possible lawsuits you may bring to your school district.
How Can I Sue a School for Bullying?
You can sue a school for bullying if the faculty fails to properly address the harassment and willfully or negligently causes the bullying to occur. All schools are required to have a bullying policy as well as procedures to follow when bullying takes place.
If teachers condone bullying by telling students it’s okay to harass someone, they may be held liable for the victim’s damages. If teachers witness bullying and do nothing in response, they’re condoning the bully’s harassment, causing further harm to others.
There are currently no federal laws that directly address bullying, but districts are compelled to prevent discriminatory harassment in their schools. Certain actions outlined in stopbullying.gov include:
- Objectively offensive conduct, like derogatory language, physical contact, or threats of violence
- Creating a hostile learning environment that hinders a student’s ability to learn and engage in intra curricular activities
- Harassment based on a protected class such as:
- Sexual orientation discrimination
- Racial discrimination
- Religious discrimination, protected by Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- National origin discrimination
- Harassment based on disabilities
Bullying should never be tolerated by faculty in a school district. If they failed to even address the situation, you have grounds to file a complaint. If they ignore your complaint, you may be able to sue the school district for your losses.
Can I Sue a School for Abuse or Harassment?
A school district is vicariously responsible for all actions teachers take during office hours. If a teacher is condoning abuse or harassment in school, you may sue the school district for damages. This especially applies to discriminatory abuse since those are attacks toward protected classes according to the Civil Rights Act.
Corporal punishment also applies as abuse as multiple states have banned its use. If a teacher used excessive force and severely hurt your child as punishment, they may be liable for damages. Be careful though, as some states allow teachers to use physical intervention in certain circumstances, like breaking up a fight.
The worst form of abuse a school district may ignore is sexual harassment of a minor by school staff. You may sue for sexual harassment since it counts as discrimination based on a protected class, according to Title IX. Again, since you’re suing a school district, you have to prove additional things to solidify your lawsuit:
- The school district knew their teacher was sexually abusing your child
- They had the power to change or correct the abuse taking place
- The school district’s response was so negligible that it constitutes deliberate indifference
You may also sue for negligent hiring if the school district knew the abuser’s previous history and hired them anyway. If your loved one is suffering abuse, know that you can turn to the law to prevent further harm.
What If I Was Wrongfully Terminated By a School District?
If you’re a wrongfully terminated faculty member, you must prove you were fired due to discrimination. Provide proof to your attorney like reports and eyewitnesses that you were discriminated against because of your protected class. You can also sue a school for workers’ compensation and wage and hour issues.
Your attorney would have to be well-versed in employment law to properly represent your case. If you need an employment lawyer by your side, LegalASAP can help connect you to an attorney in your state.
Can I Sue if a School District Fails to Provide For My Disabled Child?
You can sue a school district if they don’t provide equal education for your disabled child according to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). All schools must adhere to certain requirements like creating individual lesson plans. If they neglect to be inclusive, you may have a case to sue for discrimination.
Suing a School District for Premises Liability
School districts have a duty of care to maintain their school grounds while preventing injuries to students and staff. If the district doesn’t regularly inspect, make necessary repairs, or at least issue warnings about potential harm, they may be liable for the resulting injuries.
A premises liability lawsuit against a school district is based on gross negligence, not just mere oversights. If school staff knew a slide in a playground was badly damaged and refused to warn other students, they may be liable if a child was badly hurt.
How Can I Sue a Private School?
Suing a private school that’s not receiving government funding is actually easier than suing a public school district. The process is similar to lawsuits involving a private person or business, due to the lack of sovereign immunity. You still have to provide accurate evidence showing negligence, but the rules for your lawsuit are simpler.
Find an Attorney to Handle Your Case With LegalASAP
If you’re confused on what kind of lawyer you need to sue a school, call an attorney through LegalASAP. We’re an online network with 500+ law firms dedicated to connecting you with an attorney in your state.
You may need a personal injury attorney for a bullying case, or an employment attorney for wrongful termination. Whatever the situation, you deserve the best legal team for school district lawsuits, and we’ll help you get there. To start your legal journey, call 888-927-3080 or fill out this short evaluation form below:
Jan Reburiano is a content writer and SEO specialist for law firms focusing on personal injury, disability, employment law, among other practices. He has written and edited numerous articles and created commercial spots for broadcasters that you can find in his LinkedIn. Jan currently lives in Los Angeles, California while writing for clients from around the United States.