A parent filed a grievance against a school district following an incident in which his daughter was injured while being removed from the school cafeteria.

During the incident, two assistant principals and a school counselor held the student’s legs and torso and carried her to the principal’s office while she was kicking and struggling. The principal observed blood coming from the student’s mouth, called the nurse to evaluate, and called the student’s father. A dentist confirmed that the student’s jaw bone was fractured and two teeth had been loosened and needed to be removed.

The father verbally requested to view the video taken by the school security cameras and sent a written “preservation request,” asking the district not to destroy the video. The principal reported the incident and requested the district police department investigate an assault by the student against the principal, an assistant principal, the counselor, and the nurse. There were no findings as to what caused the student’s injuries. 

The parent filed a grievance, requesting that personnel at the school receive training regarding handling of behavioral incidents with proper restraint and de-escalation techniques. That request was granted. The district also agreed to pay the student’s medical bills resulting from the incident. 

The parent filed an appeal of the grievance to the commissioner of education. In his appeal, he argued for the first time that the district had violated several provisions of the Education Code related to discipline of students.

The commissioner dismissed the appeal because the father had failed to raise his arguments during the district grievance process. However, in the opinion, the commissioner described the district’s conduct as “disturbing” and stated that “compliance with fundamental fairness is expected.”

In this case, although the father requested to view the security video, he was denied access because the tape had been overwritten. But before it was destroyed, the district extracted still photos, which were then entered into evidence at the Level II hearing. The commissioner noted that when evidence is destroyed in this manner, the courts may assume that the evidence destroyed would have been helpful to the party who destroyed it.