LONGVIEW, Wash. – A federal court ruling has effectively ended a lawsuit against a Washington state school district over use of an elementary school isolation booth, a report said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals decision upheld a lower court ruling in favor of the Longview School District, The Daily News reported Thursday.
Five families sued the district for what they said was improper use of the booth by former special education teacher Jerry Stein at Mint Valley Elementary School between 2009 and 2012.
The 2015 lawsuit sought $17.6 million in damages to compensate for emotional and mental trauma to the children, plus medical costs and lost wages.
The district denied all of the plaintiffs’ allegations, saying one of the students was legally placed inside the booth on a single occasion for emergency reasons.
A federal district court jury dismissed the 12 claims against the district and Stein in January 2018. The families appealed and an appeals court recommended mediation. The case was returned to the court after mediation attempts failed.
The appeals court issued its decision in June upholding the district court’s ruling.
The families do not plan to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, said attorney Roger Davidheiser.
“We’re all disappointed with the decision,” Davidheiser said. “We certainly believe that it was wrong what the school district did to these children and we would never want to see this happen again to any other children.”
Administrators are satisfied with the case’s closure, said district spokesperson Rick Parrish.
The district no longer uses isolation booths in Longview schools, the newspaper reported.
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