(CN) – A New York couple can pursue a defamation claim against school officials who called Child Protective Services after the wife slapped her son’s hand in class.
Marcia and Lawrence Biondo sued the Ossining Union Free School District in a case stemming from the mother’s visit to her son’s class for two-year-old children.
After the boy threw a cookie in class, Biondo says she lightly tapped her son’s hand and told him, “don’t do that; it’s not nice.”
Family specialist Nelly Garcia said Biondo hit her son hard enough to leave a red welt on his hand. Garcia also testified that Biondo was irritable and physically aggressive with her son in class.
The school district claimed it had immunity under the Social Services Law. The Biondos argued that the district did not have reasonable suspicion that Marcia was abusing her child.
The trial court agreed with the Biondos, and so did the judges of the Brooklyn-based Second New York Appellate Division.
“The (lower) court properly determined that there are triable issues of fact as to whether the defendant school district employees had reasonable cause to suspect possible child abuse … and whether those defendants reported the alleged abuse or maltreatment in good faith.”
However, the judges determined that the Biondos did not make a convincing case on a negligent hiring claim against the district, so the judges dismissed that claim.