Warning to Texas Parents: This might be a really bad time to enroll your child in a faith-based private school

Warning to Texas Parents: This might be a really bad time to enroll your child in a faith-based private school

 

Will your child be attending a private, faith-based school in Texas this fall? In light of a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court, you may want to rethink that plan.

 

The Texas Supreme Court made a decision this past week that could adversely affect the lives of thousands of children across the state. In the John Doe vs. Episcopal School of Dallas case, the justices refused to consider a harmful ruling issued by a lower appellate court. The ruling allows a faith-based school to avoid civil liability for harming a child in its care. In other words, Texas parents may have just lost their right to sue a faith-based school their children are enrolled in, even if those children were abused by school staff.

The case involves a child who was expelled from the Episcopal School of Dallas for allegedly smoking marijuana off campus. Since the expulsion was in violation of the contract between the school and parents, the father sued ESD for breach of contract, fraud, and other claims. ESD filed a motion claiming that, under the First Amendment,  it was immune from being sued and sought special review in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Dallas. (The trial court rejected ESD’s argument.) The appeals court agreed with ESD’s claim that the father had no right to take the school to court. It’s reasoning came down to one simple truism: ESD claimed to be a “faith-based” institution. Read More »