ILNews

Trial allowed in school mental-health test case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A federal judge in South Bend is allowing a civil suit to proceed to trial in a case involving a once-controversial school mental-health screening where parents weren't informed.

U.S. District Judge James Moody for the Northern District of Indiana issued a 45-page ruling Tuesday in Teresa and Michael Rhoades v. Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation, et al., No. 3:05-CV-586. The case dates to a St. Joseph County student's suicide in 2003, which spawned the creation of a suicide-prevention pilot program the following year involving a questionnaire known as the TeenScreen examination. It was conducted by a private company at the district's request. The Rhoadeses sued the district in 2005 after their 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, was asked to provide answers to a series of yes or no questions designed to identify anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or other potential problems. The program has since been discontinued.

In their suit, the Rhoadeses raised state and federal constitutional claims alleging that the school district didn't get parental consent before evaluating their daughter and that it was an unnecessary intrusion on their rights. Judge Moody dismissed a variety of issues in favor of the school corporation, but one issue he determined was trial-worthy was whether the examination was truly required or voluntary. The school had given parents an option to sign an "opt-out" form, but the Rhoadeses argued they never received it.

The judge also determined that the school corporation hadn't shown it did not breach its duty to exercise reasonable care and supervision of its students when allowing the private Madison Center to conduct the surveys and release results to students.

Magistrate Judge Christopher Nuechterlein has been instructed to conduct a pretrial conference as soon as possible and set a trial date.
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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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