Students can suffer abuse from poorly trained, poorly equipped educators whose actions can cause serious harm to the physical health and educational achievement of their students. Physical abuse and discrimination is a common problem in many private charter schools. When abuse is suspected, parents have a responsibility to their children to fully investigate and pursue legal recourse to ensure their child is protected and that such abuse comes to an end so that other students don’t suffer the same.
8-Year Old Boy with Disabilities Suffers Abuse in Illinois Charter School
In 2019, 8-year old Zacharion Townsend suffered serious abuse at Horizon Science Academy. Townsend suffers from developmental disabilities that make it difficult to stay focused and complete basic tasks. The boy’s second-grade teacher who lacked proper training in the care and educational development of disabled children chose to put him in “time out” away from other students. The teacher physically abused him and denied the same access to materials and instruction afforded to other students. This blatant discrimination caused Townsend significant emotional harm.
The Charter School Loophole & Legal Liability
Charter schools are not required to follow many of the requirements of public schools. Many hire teachers who lack formal educational training, and many do not have the facilities or specialized staff who have training to care for students with physical or mental difficulties. This creates a hazardous situation for these students that can result in physical and mental injuries. Frequently, abusive teachers are allowed to teach for many years before abuse is discovered and the teacher’s employment terminated. In many cases, charter school operators will terminate the employee hoping to sweep the abuse under the rug and persuade the aggrieved parents not to pursue a lawsuit.
However, while charter schools are governed by a very loose set of rules, they remain liable for physical and mental injuries caused by their staff. They are subject to laws governing equal access to education and protection from discrimination. When charter schools fail in their duties, parents have a right, and indeed, an obligation, to pursue legal recourse. In Illinois, parents can file claims against the charter school, teacher, or other staff members responsible for harming their child. Further, Illinois courts do not consider lack of training, experience, or resources to be valid defenses, and “educational professionals” guilty of physically, mentally, or sexually abusing a child in their care face stiff financial penalties and potential incarceration.