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. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

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  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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