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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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