Originally created 11/17/99

Mother suing school over child's discipline



ATHENS, Ga. - Teachers at Hilsman Middle School poked a child in the back and pulled his chair out from under him while disciplining him for making too much noise, according to a lawsuit the child's mother has filed against the Clarke County School District.

The 11-year-old pupil suffered "severe emotional distress" during the Nov. 10, 1998, incident and since then has been plagued with insomnia and nightmares, according to the complaint, filed last week in Clarke County Superior Court by lawyer Anthony Pete on behalf of Gale Sheats, the child's mother.

The suit asks for $200,000 in compensation for the child's suffering.

Named as defendants are the Clarke County School District, retired Hilsman Principal Patricia Clifton and teacher Lisa McNeal.

According to the complaint, the boy was sitting in a class supervised by a substitute teacher when Ms. McNeal came over to help get the class under control.

According to the complaint, Ms. McNeal "accosted" the boy and began poking him in the back and telling him to be quiet.

According to the complaint, the pupil was ordered out of the room and, as he reached to get his three-ring binder, the teacher pulled his chair out from under him, causing him to fall on the floor.

The school district has not yet responded to the complaint. Under state law, the district has 30 days to file its response.

The school district's policy is not to comment on pending lawsuits, district spokesman Mike Wooten said Monday.