Facebook no Place for a Confidential Settlement

     FRANKLIN, Tenn. (CN) – An elementary school psychologist posted on her Facebook page details of a confidential settlement between her school and the parents of an autistic child, the parents claim in court.
     Scott and Traci Semptimphelter sued the Williamson County Board of Education and Lisa Amodeo on behalf of their child, C.S., in Williamson County Court.
     The Semptimphelters claimed their son was “deprived of certain basic educational rights while enrolled as a kindergartener and first grade student at Sunset Elementary School in Brentwood, Tennessee,” they say in the lawsuit.
     “In the fall of 2012, when C.S. enrolled in the first grade at Sunset Elementary School, these deficiencies continued, and the plaintiffs confronted once again representatives of the defendant WCBOE and the school administration requesting that they remedy certain IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] violations and provide the needed educational services to their son.
     “In November of 2012, the plaintiffs were offered a settlement by the WCOBE of their IDEA claims. This settlement was later memorialized in a contract entitled: ‘Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement,'” according to the complaint.
     But about 6 months later, Amodeo, Sunset Elementary’s school psychologist, commented on her Facebook page about an online Tennessean article about school budget cuts, the parents claim in the lawsuit.
     The complaint cites this excerpt screen shot from Amodeo’s Facebook page, which identifies her as a school psychologist at Williamson County Schools: “Our parents can afford to hire attorneys to sue and if they are unhappy, they will not hesitate to pursue that avenue. Also, if we settle and don’t fight a lawsuit, it often costs us significantly. Just this year, we placed a first grade student in a private school costing $37,000 per year, mainly to avoid a lawsuit. The child was more than adequately served in our public school based on the services we are able to provide, but the parents were persistent and we settled. That student is likely to remain in the private school until he graduates. That is a hefty price tag. And that is just one case. It makes more economical sense to me to proper fund [sic] the schools and avoid much of this.”
     The Semptimphelters seek more than $600,000 in compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract and invasion of privacy. They claim Amodeo’s comments appeared on the Tennessean website and on her personal Facebook page.
     The Semptimphelters are represented by Larry Crain with Crain, Schuette and Associates, of Brentwood.
     The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has been criticized for dumping unfunded liabilities on school districts. Small districts have pointed out, correctly, that paying for the private education of a single severely disabled child could bankrupt a district.

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