School system wins lawsuit

Published 7:29 pm Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled in favor of the Chilton County Board of Education in a case that questioned whether a 4-year-old student had been improperly restrained.

According to the ruling—which was confirmed Wednesday by Mark Boardman, who represented the county in the case—the child was enrolled in an Individualized Education Program at Clanton Elementary School because of a diagnosis of pervasive development disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, impulse control disorder and mood disorder.

On Nov. 5, 2008, the child kicked several students and teachers, so the child’s teacher placed him in a therapeutic toddler chair and a safety strap was fastened across his waist, according to court records.

The child, in the chair, was placed in the hallway outside the classroom facing the wall for less than 10 minutes to help him calm down, and his mother arrived at the school and found him in this position, according to court records.

The plaintiff contended the child’s Constitutional right to due process was violated by being restrained.

Senior District Judge W. Harold Albritton’s summary judgment stated that the “facts of the case…do not shock the conscience in a constitutional sense, and therefore do not establish a deprivation of the substantive due process rights of liberty or bodily integrity.”

The defendants named in the suit were the Chilton County Board of Education; Superintendent Keith Moore; Benita Cahalane, the county’s special education supervisor; and Heather Alford, a teacher.