Zero-Tolerance Costs Taxpayers $83k
Katie Sherman filed a complaint in January of 2015, stating that a Vermont school failed to provide some of the accommodations they agreed to on her disabled son’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). Mrs. Sherman later complained about the system, seemingly in confidence, at the Vermont Family Network (VFN). According to the VFN website, the organization “seeks to help families facing challenges at school, home, or in the community,” particularly related to medical diagnosis or other health concerns. Sherman expressed frustration to a VFN worker, saying that she might be beginning to understand why a father had resorted to violence. That man was convicted of killing two teachers in 2006.
This mother never expressed any intent to become violent, either to the VFN source, to any school official, or to anyone else.
The VFN employee related the comment to school officials, who got a “no-trespass order” against Mrs. Sherman. She was barred from the grounds of Barre Town Middle and Elementary School. There was no appeals process.
The lawyer Mrs. Sherman hired to help her regain access to her child’s school, which was also her polling place, called the school administrator’s response “very heavy-handed.” He stated, “There was no need to issue a no-trespass order. They were just getting rid of a thorn in their side.” Her lawyer continued, “She had been complaining and vociferously challenging the school in terms of their failures to comply with her son’s IEP, as any mom should.”
The school settled the lawsuit, leaving Vermont taxpayers responsible for paying the mother $83,750 in damages. The child now attends a different school. (Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, 7-16-15) (Reason, 2-9-16)