Alleging school officials physically abused their son and violated his civil rights, the parents of a former Groveton ISD student have filed a lawsuit in Lufkin's U.S. District Court. The lawsuit stems from two paddling incidents in 2003.
The lawsuit, filed by the family of Justin Michael Causby, is seeking an unspecified amount in negligence claims and exemplary damages for past and future pain, suffering, mental anguish and emotional distress.
"The Groveton Independent School District has a policy which promotes corporal punishment," the lawsuit states. "The school policy is archaic, barbaric and sadistic and one which encourages physical abuse on minors as punishment for trivial infractions.
"The policy of punishment by this local government entity allows its employees to arbitrarily mete out the corporal punishment for a broad range of behavior, including relatively minor childhood discipline problems."
Groveton ISD Superintendent Joe David Driskell said he was unaware that a lawsuit had been filed by the family.
"I don't have any comment at this time," he said. "I guess I'll just have to wait and see what the court says."
The lawsuit alleges Groveton ISD's corporal punishment policy is in "direct conflict" with state criminal laws that prevent citizens from physically abusing minor children.
In addition to the school district itself, the lawsuit named a PE coach and a band teacher at Groveton Elementary as defendants.
The first paddling occurred Aug. 21, the lawsuit states. At the time, Justin Causby was a 10-year-old fifth grader at Groveton Elementary. The second occurred four days later.
Samuel J. Cuming, an attorney for the Causby family, said he did a great deal of research on corporal punishment and found that while it used to be the norm in public schools, districts across the country are eliminating it as a disciplinary option.
"No kid in the state of Texas should be subjected to this kind of brutality," Cuming said. "I think the days of corporal punishment are numbered. It's a very primitive form of discipline, and it can lead to situations like this."