Successful representation of client in elementary school disciplinary case.
We successfully represented our client, an elementary school, in a lawsuit challenging the principal’s decision to suspend two students for intimidating behavior. After a bench trial, a Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas judge found in favor of the school and dismissed the lawsuit. The Court ruled that the school had not abused its discretion in determining the manner in which the two students would be disciplined.
The First District Court of Appeals affirmed the decision in favor of our client, holding the school handbook was not a contract, and, even if it was, the school did not abuse its discretion. It was an important decision in several respects. It reaffirmed the broad discretion given to private schools in disciplinary matters. It was the first appellate court in Hamilton County to address the issue of student discipline in the private elementary school context. And it was the first court in Ohio to squarely answer the question of whether a grade school handbook constitutes a binding contract on the school. In answering that question in the negative, Judge DeWine’s majority opinion represents a significant victory for private schools moving forward and only increases the burden student/parent plaintiffs face in challenging a disciplinary decision.