|By Lois Henry, The Bakersfield Californian|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Practically from the moment the aide whipped open that bathroom door, the bungling began. No one from the school called police. The girl wasn't seen by a nurse or doctor. The kids were kept together in the same classroom and even sent home on the same bus together. The girl's parents weren't called until nearly five hours after the incident.
For me, though, the ultimate sputter moment came when I read that the attorney defending the
Are you kidding me?
Under that theory you could do pretty much anything to an autistic person and it'd be no harm, no foul, which is, of course, ridiculous. I can kind of see why the attorney,
As soon as the lawsuit was filed back in 2010, the district accepted responsibility for the incident. It admitted right up front that its employees should have done a better job keeping an eye on the kids so they didn't end up in the bathroom together.
All that was left to hash out was the harm suffered by the girl.
Herr had to try to reduce the perceived harm, and thus any judgment against the district. Over the course of the two trials (the first one ended in mistrial in 2013), Herr aggressively pursued the no-harm defense.
"It's like a 3- or 4-year-old running around the house naked," Herr summed up. "They do not perceive it as (sexual)."
His strategy backfired in May when a jury awarded the girl and her family
Now that there's been a verdict, you may think that means this is all water under the bridge. Uh-uh.
Whether or not the district, via its insurance company, decides to appeal, I believe the public is owed an explanation for how this incident and this case were handled.
And not just because of the money, though an appalling amount has been spent to defend this case.
From the moment those kids were found in the bathroom to the jury's verdict, I think this cuts to the heart of how KHSD views disabled children. Does the district value them as much as normal kids? If all you had to go on was this case, your conclusion would have to be no.
The basic timeline alone is outrageous.