Families awarded $1.2 million in lawsuit against Oneida schools

The Oneida School District has been ordered to pay $1.2 million to two disabled students and their families, after a ruling in U.S. District Court in Pocatello.

The Idaho State Journal wrote Wednesday about the verdict, and wrote in detail about the graphic complaints against the eastern Idaho district.

The two students — identified in court documents only by their initials, B.S. and O.C. — both sustained physical injuries at Malad Elementary School. A 350-pound electric wheelchair rolled off a ledge and landed on top of B.S., causing a broken arm bone. In another incident, O.C. crawled up a set of four stairs to attend music class. On one occasion, Shelbie Harris of the Idaho State Journal wrote, O.C. lost feeling in her legs, “(and) proceeded to climb the set of stairs with a dislocated kneecap, a dislocated tendon and a broken femur.”

The school also failed to come up with a safety plan for the two students, leaving them on the second floor of the building during fire drills, the Journal reported.

The district says it will appeal U.S. District Judge David C. Nye’s verdict, which came after a jury trial, the Journal reported.

The case spotlights safety and access issues at Malad Elementary School, which is nearly 70 years old. In March, the district sought a $14.85 million bond issue to demolish the school and replace it, but the proposal fell just short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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