How to Sue a School District

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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I Need Advice on How to Sue a School District

Suing a school or school district isn’t an easy task. There are many steps you’ll need to take and it’s possible that you may need some legal assistance along the way. The first thing you should do is to identify the basis for your lawsuit. That is, you need to make it clear why you intend to sue the school or district in the first place. 

You might actually have more than one reason to sue a school.  Here are some common issues that are involved in a school lawsuit:

A school district can also be sued for issues arising with employees. For example, if a teacher is not paid the overtime wages or has had their salary wrongfully withheld, they may be able to file a lawsuit against the district for their losses.

After identifying your basic legal issue, you’ll want to begin compiling the evidence that can be used in your lawsuit. This can include witness statements, written statements from the school, your own written account of incidents, and documents or forms.

Is the Process for How to Sue a School District the Same for Public and Private Schools?

Usually not- there are many issues involved with private schools that might not apply to public institutions.  For example, disputes can arise over the tuition that a parent has to pay for their child to attend a private school. Also, there may be complaints about a private school’s selectivity when it comes to admitting or dismissing students.

These types of issues are usually addressed in the contract that is signed by the private school and the student (or student’s parent) before they enlist in the school. Thus, the process for suing a private school may involve breach of contract issues.

Also, private schools are generally subject to the same laws as public schools if they receive any form of federal funding.  It may take some research on your part, along with the help of an attorney, to determine which laws a private school is regulated by. 

What can an Administrative Agency do When Attempting to Sue a School District?

When suing a public school, it may be necessary for you to file with a government administrative agency before you can file a lawsuit. You may be required to “exhaust the remedies” that are available to you before you can file a civil lawsuit against a school district.  This might not always be the case, but in general, you’ll probably need a lawyer when filing for assistance from an administrative agency.

The administrative agency may launch an investigation into the public school district to determine if a violation has occurred. If so, they may require the school to take action to remedy the situation, such as changing policies or firing a particular employee. Again, this will require proof in the form of evidence, similar to the way evidence is used in a lawsuit. The administrative agency can also instruct you as to who can be held liable- whether it be the particular school branch, the entire district, or a single teacher.  

If the agency’s investigation is not enough to resolve your dispute, it may then be possible to file a lawsuit against the district. This entire process can take a good deal of time, so you should be prepared for a somewhat lengthy process overall. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Suing a School District?

If you need more detailed advice and guidance on how to sue a school district, you may wish to hire a lawyer for assistance. An experienced attorney can help you file a claim against the school district, and can guide you throughout the process. Whether you need to file with an agency or sue the district directly, the experience of a lawyer is indispensable for the success of your claim.

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Last Modified: 01-14-2014 11:26 AM PST

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