Beattie v. Board of Education of Antigo
Wisconsin Supreme Court
169 Wis. 231 (1919)
Merritt Beattie was a resident of the city of Antigo and was physically disabled. Merritt suffered from a condition that left him unable to have typical use of his body, extremities, face, and voice. Merritt had difficulty walking and speaking and drooled uncontrollably. Merritt was mentally able to learn and keep up with the other children academically. Teachers and other pupils, however, claimed that Merritt’s condition was distressing and disruptive and that he required an undue portion of the teachers’ attention. The school administrators eventually placed Merritt in a special school for children who were deaf or had speech difficulties but then transferred him back to regular public school after a few weeks. A representative of the state education department suggested that Merritt be placed back in the special school. Merritt refused, and Merritt’s father (Beattie) (plaintiff) brought the matter before the city’s board of education (the board) (defendant). The board reviewed evidence about Merritt’s disabilities and alleged disruptiveness and determined that Merritt should not be allowed to return to the regular school. Beattie brought a mandamus action in municipal court against the board to compel them to admit Merritt to the regular public school. The trial court presented the issue to a jury, and the jury ruled in Merritt’s favor. The board appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Owen, J.)
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