The Parker County Sheriff's Department said that no laws were broken when a third-grader with bad hygiene was offered a stick of deodorant by Peaster school district employees.
Parents of the 8-year-old boy, however, have sued the Parker County district and two employees, contending that their son was "violently" rubbed with a washcloth while being ridiculed and harassed about being "dirty."
The lawsuit, filed last week in a district court in Fort Worth, claims that the student's "constitutional, statutory and common law rights" were violated on Nov. 15, when two Peaster Elementary School employees forced him to disrobe and shower because he "smelled badly."
Plaintiffs Amber and Michael Tilley say in the suit that their son objected and that after his "bath" he was forced to apply deodorant.
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The lawsuit seeks punitive damages from each of the defendants.
"There was no violation of the law," said Danie Huffman, spokeswoman with the sheriff's department. "We spoke with seven people and all of their stories were consistent; all witness statements were corroborated with each other."
She said that deputies were told by school district employees that the child was offered a stick of deodorant and allowed to put it on himself but that at no time was he ever showered. She said he was offered a shower if he wanted but that the employees didn't bathe him.
The suit also alleges that, every morning after the incident, the student was told when arriving at school that he would be "sprayed" so he would not smell. When he asked what they were going to spray him with, the two defendants responded, "I can't tell you, but it will kill you," the suit says.
A day after the child told his parents what had happened, Michael Tilley filed a report with the Parker County Sheriff's Department, alleging assault and battery. While sheriff's deputies obtained statements from those involved, no further action was taken.
"It certainly is a unique case," said the Tilleys' Austin-based attorney, Jason Bach. "With this age child and their basis for doing this, being that it was supposed to be hygiene-related without contacting the parents. ... I've never seen anything quite like this."
He said it is even more unfortunate that the parents contacted law enforcement the next day and had no success.
"I believe the school officials minimized what their conduct was, to a certain degree," he said. "They acknowledge a certain portion of what they did [but] the police department took no action on it."
As a result, the Tilleys are seeking monetary and injunctive relief.
"We want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else again," Bach said.
Lance Winter, 817-594-9902, ext. 102