Relying on the criminal courts for justice can be a tricky proposition, as evidenced by the fallout of a judge dismissing charges against a Teacher’s Assistant for excessive discipline of a special needs student on June 20th, 2018. According to eyewitnesses, the Teacher’s Assistant slammed the student’s arm on a desk and then threatened additional physical assault.
The reason for dismissal was lack of evidence. As standards for eyewitness testimony have evolved, proving teacher abuse in criminal court has become more difficult. And physical evidence can be extremely difficult to find, particularly if the assault results in only bruising or leaves no physical marks.
A physical assault that leaves no physical marks may still be extremely painful and psychologically devastating. Students with special needs can be particularly vulnerable to this type of abuse, particularly if the student has limited verbal skills or a reputation for behavioral difficulties. These students are exceptionally vulnerable, and many Teacher’s Assistants and even teachers are under-qualified and undertrained for the difficulties of working with challenging individuals.
With the criminal justice system unable to hold abusive staff responsible, civil courts are often the only avenue available to parents to protect their children. An experienced attorney can build a case around eyewitness testimony, as well as employ psychologists and other specialists to provide a full inventory of events for juries and judges.
It is important to hold educators responsible for their actions, particularly if those actions are abusive. Though the criminal justice system can be difficult to navigate, without clear indications of who is even working in the best interest of your family, civil courts allow you to choose who is working for you. Please, consult with a qualified attorney regarding your case.