The parents of an 11-year-old boy with autism are suing the Leander school district in Texas, claiming the district did not take the necessary measures to protect their son from repeated bullying and alleged sexual abuse by his peers, the Austin American-Statesman reports.
The Loe family filed in U.S. District Court in Austin against the school district, Superintendent Bret Champion and 16 Mason Elementary School teachers and special education therapists. The Loes are suing for unspecified damages for their son’s medical and mental health expenses, attorney’s fees and punitive and exemplary damages.
The suit states that the parents reported the bullying to district staff in April 2007, and continued to notify school leaders of repeated incidents over the span of four years. According to the Cedar Park-Leander Statesman, the family reported harassment to Champion and CC Mason Elementary School Principal Jamie Klassen, leading to a meeting with Billie Chastain, the district’s coordinator of administrative services for special education. Chastain allegedly canceled the meeting after the Loes invited an outside advocate.
Their son receives special education due to being diagnosed with several conditions: Gorlin’s syndrome, autism, an eating disorder and anxiety disorder. The student also suffers from severe strabismus, and is considered legally blind, according to the suit.
The Loes claim that students called their child names, made fun of him, laughed at him, pushed him and in one instance, punched him in the face, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
According to the suit, teachers sent the child to the bathroom with known bullies, who would “yank [the child] out of the stall with his pants down, and make him touch his penis.” One boy allegedly touched the child’s genitals as well.
The Loes say their son told them that the boys threatened him with physical harm if he didn’t abide by their commands.
Last year, the Cedar Park Police Department investigated the allegations of sexual abuse, but Capt. Jeffrey Hayes said on Monday that “no criminal charges were filed as a result.”
"We worked very closely with the county attorney's office in the case to see if criminal charges were appropriate," he said. "If there would have been evidence, we would have pursued charges."
This marks the fourth lawsuit the Leander school district has been hit with since February. Three of them were filed by parents who contend the district did little to protect their children from bullying, according to KXAN.