Preschooler II v. Clark County School Board Trustees

479 F.3d 1175 (2007)

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Preschooler II v. Clark County School Board Trustees

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
479 F.3d 1175 (2007)

  • Written by Jody Stuart, JD

Facts

Preschooler II (the child) (plaintiff) was a four-year-old with tuberous sclerosis and nonverbal autism who attended a special-education program. Kathleen Lisanti, the child’s teacher, allegedly physically abused the child on repeated occasions from September 2002 until April 2003. In one instance, Lisanti allegedly beat the child, repeatedly hitting the child’s head and face. On another occasion, witnessed by a detective, Lisanti allegedly slammed the child into a chair. On neither occasion did the child pose a danger to anyone or behave disruptively in the classroom. On four occasions, Lisanti forced the child to walk without shoes from the school bus to the classroom. Lisanti had been attempting to teach the child not to remove his shoes on the bus. At another time, the child sustained unexplained bruising to his arms and inner-thigh regions and an unexplained thick fingernail scratch to his neck region. In April 2003, the child’s school principal informed the child’s mother, Jane Roe (plaintiff), that Lisanti had hit the child. After unsuccessful administrative proceedings, the child and Roe filed suit in federal district court against the state, the school district, the school board, and various school personnel (collectively, school officials) (defendants), claiming abuse in violation of the child’s constitutional rights. The claims of abuse ranged from being beaten and body-slammed to the unexplained bruises and scratches and shoeless walks. The school officials asserted qualified immunity for the claims. The district court determined that qualified immunity was not warranted for any of the abuse claims because the child had alleged conduct sufficient to support a claim for the violation of constitutional rights. The school officials appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (McKeown, J.)

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