Earlier this week, officials from the Brentwood Union School District agreed to an $8 million settlement with the families of eight special needs children who were verbally and physically abused by a teacher at Krey and Loma Vista elementary schools .
The federal lawsuit, which was filed in August 2013, alleged that the teacher, Dina Holder, used unreasonable and unjustified force against the children. The lawsuit also named several school and district administrators who failed to take action and inform parents of the abuse. The Brentwood School District was also accused of failing to provide the same level of education to the victims as other students, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A History of Abuse
Holder had previously come under scrutiny after she was accused of similar conduct for allegedly pulling a young disabled child out of his chair, kicking him, and verbally abusing him. The Brentwood School District ultimately settled the lawsuit for $950,000 in December 2012 and Holder resigned.
Despite the factor that administrators were well aware of Holder’s abusive and violent behavior, they did not report it to the police – as California law requires – and failed to discipline or terminate her. Instead, she was transferred to Krey Elementary, where parents were not informed of her abusive history and pending criminal charges and where the abuse continued.
Because of the failures of administrators – who are in positions of power precisely to protect students’ safety – an abusive teacher with a history of violence was permitted to inflict harm on children. The injuries and repercussions experienced by the children could have been prevented had administrators taken action to follow the law. As a result of the lawsuits, the Brentwood School District is set to adopt a new zero-tolerance abuse policy. Although this may help protect future students, it comes too late for those who have already been victimized.
At The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP, our California child abuse and sexual abuse attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of victims and families and relentless in our efforts to hold negligent individuals and entities liable for their failures. While the conduct of this abusive teacher is shocking and should never have been tolerated, the failure of administrators to take decisive action and protect students is just as unacceptable.
If you have questions about child abuse – including abuse in schools – and your right to pursue legal action, call (949) 557-5800 to speak with a member of our legal team.