Texas judge finds no real injuries
By Jordan Riak, August 12, 1996

In Texas, if somebody beats your dog with a wooden board for no reason, you'd sue and win. In addition to the civil action, the perpetrator would undoubtedly face criminal charges and be punished. But in Texas if somebody beats your child with a wooden board, and the perpetrator happens to be a schoolteacher, you'd better back off and keep your mouth shut. If you try to seek a remedy in the courts on behalf of your child, it is you, the parent, who will be punished. That's the way it is in Texas. Family pets are cherished, but children... Well, they're a different story.
ASSOCIATED PRESS, August 11, 1996: A judge has dismissed a "silly" lawsuit filed by a mother and her son seeking damages from the Houston school district after a music teacher paddled the boy with a broken cello for being tardy.

State District Judge William Bell ordered sanctions on Friday against Alice and Mark Anthony Ramirez who continued their case despite repeated warnings from Houston Independent School District attorneys that state law does not permit such legal actions against school districts. Bell dismissed the case and assessed $15,000 in penalties against the plaintiffs, who did not appear for the hearing Friday. Bell told attorneys that he might view the case differently had there been any evidence of real injuries from the spanking.

For example, when Mark Ramirez arrived late to class, his teacher beat him on the buttocks with a piece of wood. While such treatment of schoolchildren is routine in most parts of Texas and in every southern state except Virginia, in this particular district, hitting kids is prohibited by district regulations. But that didn't protect Mark. The attack caused him to defecate in his clothes and left visible bruises. His mom was summoned by the school nurse to come get her son.

The outraged Mrs. Ramirez sought justice for Mark as any caring parent would. But in Texas there is a law which prohibits legal actions by parents against school districts. She tried anyway. She sued the district and the teacher for assault.

State District Judge William Bell wasn't impressed. After all, the Ramirez boy isn't anybody's prize retriever; he's just a kid. "It's silly to be wasting our time and taxpayer's money. We can have people running down here to sue every time there's a spanking," Judge Bell told the Houston Chronicle (8/10/96) and he slapped Mrs. Ramirez with a $15,000 penalty for filing a frivolous lawsuit.

Has it occurred to anyone to ask what it is, besides the lobbying clout of the education establishment, that could persuade the Texas legislature to exempt one particular professional group from the risk of civil suits and consequently leave any schoolchild exposed to worse treatment than can be legally meted out to a convicted felon in a Texas prison? This incident perfectly illustrates just who's protecting whose rear and at what cost to society.



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