I keep an eye on the search terms that people use to find this blog, and over the past few weeks a number of searchers were using the words “lawsuit grandview heights schools” (or some variation of those terms). A little google-fu allowed me to find the documents online for this case, which was filed last year.
A parent was having issues with the school and there had been some conferences at which the parent expressed dissatisfaction with the educational plans for his child. At some point, personnel at the school heard things said that caused them to suspect the parent was engaged in child abuse, and they reported the parent to the Franklin County Children’s Services and the Grandview Heights Police Department. Each agency investigated, and found there was no child abuse.
The parent alleges that school officials falsely reported child abuse to those agencies, and has filed a lawsuit.
I have talked to a few experienced teachers about this case, and they think there is almost no chance this was caused by a teacher (or administrator) making up false charges. Parents come into the school and throw fits because they want changes to the educational plans quite often, and while the school officials might not like the histrionics some parents can express, they are nothing special. Getting even with a parent by false child abuse charges is not common. For the teachers, filing charges involves a good bit of paperwork and meetings, and puts them in the spotlight. They don’t do it for fun.
Even if the parent has good reason to suspect he was being harassed with the child abuse charges in order to keep him quiet, it makes little sense to go public with this sort of lawsuit. The classic “Streisand effect” will put the parents in the position of high publicity, and their names will be associated with the child abuse investigation longer than if they had kept quiet.
I’m not going to name the parents. The info is out there on the net. It is the kind of news that should be reported, because the school doesn’t get many lawsuits (I suspect the reason it hasn’t been in the TVN is because they do a poor job of reporting local news since the consolidation of the newspapers). I’ll keep an eye on the court proceedings, but unless other parents come forward with similar charges, I think this will end with no effect on the schools.
(later) In case there is anyone who wants to discuss the contents of this post, there is a contact form on the “About” section of the website. There is also comment section for the post for more public discussion.
More after the jump.
The attorney who is representing the parent in this case has been in contact with me. He wanted to tell me that he has solid evidence to support his suit against O’Reilly. If he does, it will be presented in court and his client will win. There is nothing that can be said about that evidence outside the court for obvious reasons.
He did make a point I have to agree with. His client was reported to FCCS, and investigated. There was no evidence that the child abuse charges were true. This is a necessary part of the system that keeps kids safe, it is expected there will be some cases where there should not have been an embarrassing and frightening investigation. Teachers hear things wrong, make assumptions that they should not. It’s not a perfect system.
However, there is a difference between an imperfect system and a broken system. Is it possible that there are too many investigations of parents in Grandview, because of a systemic “hair trigger” that is too fast in starting investigations? It is a difficult question to answer. The parents who were caught up in unnecessary investigations have no reason to go public. The school administration has no reason to admit that they start too many investigations (and for confidentiality reasons they can’t say much).
I think it is necessary to shine light into opaque government processes every once in a while.
(September 2013) If this case still has any interest you can find a new opinion filed by the judge that pretty much explains the whole case, who did what, why the lawsuit was filed. As I said in the comments below there are a number of websites that post this material online for free, just do a search for “Edward O’Reilly” defendant.
This is what I found in a legal filing that was written in 2015.
On June 9, 2014, this Court dismissed O’Reilly with prejudice as a defendant after the parties advised the Court that “the claims against him have been resolved.” (Order Dismissing Def., Doc. 142).
Why was O’Reilly allowed to leave the lawsuit? It is possible the plaintiff had no further legal reason to continue, but quite often there is a settlement made by the defendant paying some money. I can’t find anything online that mentioned how the case against O’Reilly was resolved. If the school paid money to end the lawsuit it should be recorded somewhere. I can’t work up the interest to care how this ended, O’Reilly has been gone from the school since 2014. According to his Linkin Profile, O’Reilly got a job as the Executive Director of High Schools, for the Columbus City schools, in August 2015.