Some people believe lawsuits are all about money but one of the biggest motivators behind a civil suit is to create change. A civil suit can create change when a jury verdict validates that the actions of the defendant were wrong. The civil suit can also punish the wrongdoer(s) by awarding punitive damages. The purpose of a civil lawsuit is to make the plaintiff, the person who files the complaint, “whole” again. Even though the damage is done and no amount of money can undo the damage, it can help pay for therapy and help the victim financially.
Today, it was reported that the San Diego Unified School District has been ordered to pay more than $1.25 million to a former student who was forced to urinate in a bucket after her request to use the bathroom was denied. That poor girl was humiliated, teased to the point she attempted suicide and had to change schools multiple times. All because of that teacher’s very poor judgment call based on policies by school districts that should not be allowed.
I sincerely hope this lawsuit creates changes in school districts bathroom break policies. My daughter has come home from school complaining of not being allowed to use the restroom during class. Their passing period (time to go from one class to their next class) is five minutes. I’ve been on her campus many times for back to school night and parent shadow day where they use the same bell system and give us parents five minutes to make it to the next class and it is very tough to make it without a single stop and walking as fast as I can.
I have always told my daughter to take care of herself first. If she needs to go to the bathroom, she is to go to the bathroom and let me worry about the ramifications from her school. I know too well what can happen to our bodies if we do not relieve ourselves when necessary. I would be more than happy to challenge any school on this matter.
In an article written by Steve Hodges, MD for Parents.com, the pediatric urologist writes, “Though I'm sympathetic to the challenges of managing a classroom, I believe students must be allowed to use the restroom when the urge arises—not 10 or 20 or 60 minutes later. It's a health issue, and it's no joke. Suppressing the urge to pee can damage a growing bladder, thickening and aggravating the bladder wall and increasing a child's risk for accidents, bedwetting, and urinary tract infections. Ignoring the urge to poop wreaks even more havoc, as I explain in our free download, "The K-12 Teacher's Fact Sheet on Childhood Toileting Problems."
A UCSF survey of 4,000 K-5 teachers found:
•76% inadvertently fail to promote voiding health
•81% allow free access to water during class but 88% encourage students to hold pee during class
•36% reward students for not using bathroom passes
Sounds to me like these school no-bathroom-break policies set the school districts up for lots of civil suits against them. They should rethink their policies after doing their due diligence on urinary health. If they are worried about students goofing off, the schools will just have to get creative and handle it a different way or just let it go, no pun intended. If a student goes to the bathroom to get out of class or goof off, that is their issue (unless they are being disruptive, that should be treated differently) and they will miss out on what is being taught. Letting them quietly leave and return is less disruptive than taking time away from teaching to argue with students and doesn’t put your school district at risk for a lawsuit.