KELLER -- An Austin attorney who fell asleep while he presided over a Keller family's special-education due-process hearing has resigned from his role and the Texas Education Agency won't use him again, state officials said Friday.
A new hearing officer has been assigned, said DeEtta Culbertson, a TEA spokeswoman.
Myrna Silver of Dallas, the family's attorney in the hearing, said Larry Craddock periodically slept while she presented evidence and while witnesses testified in January.
"He was continuously dozing off, falling asleep," Silver said. "If the school district's attorney and I would begin to argue about something, he would rouse himself and make a ruling."
In an e-mail to Silver on Monday, Craddock said he likely "slept one or two minutes at most" during the hearing and is taking medication that causes drowsiness.
"I am writing to apologize for going to sleep during the hearing in this case," the e-mail said. "It was completely involuntary on my part. I meant no disrespect to the parties."
Craddock declined to comment further in a brief telephone interview Friday but confirmed that he apologized by e-mail.
"I can't talk about this," he said. "I have a problem, and I'm seeing doctors about it."
Attorneys for the Keller school district did not return phone calls.
Parents Donna Harvey and Sheryl Kaminsky said the hearing is about special-education services that they believe the district should have provided for their 18-year-old son. They are seeking financial restitution for treatment, therapy, legal fees and other expenses.
Their son, who they say is autistic, now attends a Dallas private school.
Kaminsky and Harvey said they tried to keep Craddock alert.
"We tried coughing loudly, dropping water bottles, slamming books, all in an effort to wake him," Kaminsky said.
She took a photo that she said shows Craddock looking at his cellphone at one point and shot footage of him that appears to show his eyes closed.
The video, posted on YouTube, had received more than 4,500 views by early Friday afternoon.
The hearing was postponed after three days, and during the break, Silver filed a motion to remove or recuse Craddock. A different hearing officer denied the motion, and the case is now postponed until April.
In his e-mail, Craddock told Silver that it is an attorney's duty to wake a sleeping judge.
Silver said she didn't know how to handle the situation and was concerned about being perceived as disrespectful.
"It was really very, very difficult, so we just let it go," she said.
Silver said that she has completed nearly all her case and that the school district has not started. She expects to have a conference call with the new hearing officer to discuss how to proceed.
"I'm certainly very happy. He's not competent, obviously, to sit and hear evidence and decide cases," Silver said.