Family of disabled teen wins $1 million judgment against Keller school district

Posted Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A federal jury on Friday awarded $1 million to a family who sued the Keller school district, accusing administrators of not doing enough to prevent a special education teacher from injuring their disabled son, who cannot talk and is confined to a wheelchair.

The suit, filed by the parents of Terrence Rideau II in 2010, called for district officials to take responsibility for injuries they said were caused by Dan Evans, a special education teacher who worked at Bear Creek Intermediate and Keller Middle schools.

“They hurt my son and didn’t get away with it,” said Breggett Rideau after the verdict. “We told the truth.”

Her son, known as Little T, is now 18. In 2009 and 2010 at the middle school, he sustained injuries including a swollen left knee, a head contusion, a fractured thumb and a dislocated right knee, Breggett Rideau testified.

Little T also developed dystonia, which means he stiffens his body during certain activities, his father, Terrence Rideau, testified. Dystonia is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that can cause slow repetitive movements or abnormal postures.

“We hope it effects change,” said Michael Hurst, the family’s attorney. “Because it’s never been about the money for my client.”

Breggett Rideau said she wants to outfit all special needs classrooms in Texas with video cameras that would protect students from being abused.

“I have what I need now to get those cameras in the classroom,” she said.

The Rideaus sued in federal court, saying the district violated provisions of federal law protecting people with disabilities.

In Thomas Brandt, an attorney for the school district, said on Friday that the Keller school district did not injure Little T. The family is in a tragic situation because their son was immunized with a faulty batch of vaccine when he was an infant, Brandt said.

“The fact that Little T cannot speak is a neutral fact,” Brandt said. “Because he cannot speak, we cannot infer any evil intent on the Keller Independent School District.”

Neither Little T, his parents, his teachers nor his caretakers have explained to the court exactly how these injuries occurred, Brandt said. There is no evidence that any of these injuries occurred at school, Brandt said.

Brandt said Little T still attends classes in the Keller school district because it has “wonderful services and because Dan Evans is gone. That means Keller was not the problem,” Brandt said.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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