Court rejects Lansing teachers’ lawsuit

LANSING, Mich. — For the second time, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled against Lansing teachers who sued the district for not expelling students who the teachers said attacked them, the Lansing State Journal reported.

The court said that because the Lansing School District had determined that the students’ conduct did not rise to the level of physical assault, there were no grounds to award damages, according to the Journal.

An attorney representing the school board and district told the Journal that the court agreed that school boards have the discretion to determine whether or not physical assaults, as defined by statute, have occurred.

“We cannot and will not undermine the school board's statutory role,” the majority opinion said, the Journal reported.

Doug Pratt, public affairs director for the Michigan Education Association, called the ruling “an extremely troubling finding,” the Journal reported.

The case involved incidents that took place from 2005 to 2007, including slapping a teacher on the back, throwing a spiked bracelet that struck a teacher, and two cases of students throwing chairs that struck teachers, according to the Journal.

The students were suspended but not expelled, according to The Journal, and the teachers said in the suit that they feared further harm.


Lansing State Journal, “Appeals court rejects Lansing teachers’ lawsuit,” Aug. 11, 2011


Michigan Education Digest, “ACLU: School discipline is uneven,” June 28, 2009