A parent sued a school district after district police officers tasered and handcuffed her 17-year-old son. The teen was diagnosed with emotional and intellectual disabilities that qualified him for special education services and accommodations. He became upset at school, tried to lwalk home, and was tasered by a school resource officer when he refused to remain in the building. Another officer handcuffed the student after he was tasered and lying on the floor, and the officers called emergency medical services. The student did not return to school that year.

The parent alleged that the district discriminated against her son based on his disabilities because the district had not permitted the student to “walk through the campus as would any nondisabled student, an accommodation to his disability encouraged by his teachers and educational plan” and that it had “refused to permit him to leave the campus as they would have otherwise permitted a nondisabled student to do, solely because of his disability.” The suit argued that school officials had other methods by which they could have kept the student safe, such as using the BIP, allowing him to continue to walk off his frustrations, or giving him food and drink to distract him.

The school district requested that the lawsuit be dismissed and that request was granted. The parents requested that the district court reconsider the motion and it agreed to do so. Upon reconsideration, the district court found that neither the district nor the school resource officers had discriminated against the student based upon his disability. The court noted that the officer who tasered the teen was motivated by a desire to keep the student safe and testified that he felt that it was important to keep the teen in the building because he believed the student would be in danger if he was allowed to leave. The treatment of a disabled student may be different from that of a nondisabled student, but different is not necessarily discriminatory. A decision may take into account a student’s disabilities and lack of evidence of prejudice, ill-will or spite.

In this case, the court noted that the school had frequently evaluated the student and created a detailed educational plan to address his needs. The district also attempted to reach out to the parent after the tasering incident in an attempt to persuade the student to return to school. The court did note that the manner in which the district handled the situation was “troubling,” but in light of the fact that the school resource officers were primarily concerned with protecting the student, no discrimination was found. The lawsuit was dismissed.