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Secured a civil rights settlement in a pro bono case for a child with autism.

Date: 11.22.23

A WTO team helped a child with autism secure a civil rights settlement in a case against the Douglas County School District and Sheriff’s Office in Colorado. In addition to a confidential monetary settlement, the school district agreed to revise policies and require additional training to make schools safer for students with disabilities.

WTO lawyers, in partnership with the ACLU and WilmerHale, filed a lawsuit in March 2021 for an 11-year-old child with autism. The suit alleged that sheriff’s department school resource officers handcuffed the child, grabbed him by the neck, forced him into the back of a police car, left him in the back seat alone for several hours, and booked him into a juvenile detention facility—all for poking another child with a pencil. Without seeking medical attention, officers drove the child to a juvenile detention center and placed him in custody until his parents posted a $25,000 bond. This child suffered from severe anxiety and PTSD following the incident. 

The student’s family sued the school district and sheriff’s department for violating the student’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fourth Amendment. 

“Student safety is extremely important,” Tim Macdonald, the Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado, said in a press release announcing the settlement. “Students deserve to feel safe in a community where they are supposed to be learning. We hope that with these revised policies, children will be protected and get the individual support that they deserve.”

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