Dallas Independent School District (DISD) is facing a federal lawsuit after its alleged negligence may have resulted in the tragic death of a teaching assistant who was assaulted by a student with special needs back in January 2021.
The two sons of the deceased 56-year-old DISD employee, Sharla Sims, claim in their suit that the school district acted with “deliberate indifference” by not sending the student to a “more appropriate learning environment based upon his disabilities and recent history of physical violence.”
The student with special needs had allegedly assaulted at least two DISD staff members in at least three other incidents before the attack at Spruce High School that apparently precipitated Sims’ death.
On January 8, 2021, according to the lawsuit, the student, described as “a very large 17-year-old with significant behavioral and learning disabilities,” allegedly attacked Sims without warning or provocation “with the full force of his body.”
Sims complained of intense pain and ended up in the hospital, where medical professionals concluded she sustained an aortic dissection, which resulted in massive internal bleeding and organ failure.
She died from her injuries on January 11, 2021.
“DISD knew of the danger. They were well aware of it and had been. But they didn’t address it,” declared Kirk Claunch, one of the attorneys representing Sims’ family, per WFAA.
Claunch’s co-counsel further alleged that DISD did not notify Sims’ family that she had been attacked, nor did it report the incident to the police.
“This is going to be one of the most egregious cases we’ve ever handled,” stated lead attorney B’Ivory Lamarr. “DISD covered up a potential murder. They did not notify law enforcement.”
What did DISD do in response to the student’s attack? Lamarr said they “simply moved a student to another school within the district.”
Brandren Sims, one of Sharla Sims’ sons, told WFAA, “We want justice now. Period.”
Sims’ sons claimed they only learned about the circumstances surrounding their mother’s death after a whistleblower named Andrea Whelan mentioned the incident in her lawsuit against DISD.
Whelan alleged the district retaliated against her for uncovering grade and attendance manipulation at W. W. Samuell High School, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Whelan noted the student who attacked Sims had been transferred to W. W. Samuell High following the incident by the DISD administration.
“Every teacher in this city, every teacher in this state, every teacher in this country should be able to perform their job without the fear of being violently attacked at work,” said attorney Lamarr, per WFAA.
News of the fresh lawsuit, which broke last week, is only the latest scandal and allegation of gross mismanagement and possible misconduct by DISD’s elected leadership.
Despite the best efforts of the district’s hardworking teachers and campus administrators, DISD continues to suffer a reputation for mismanagement, corruption, a lack of transparency, and now, workplace-related death.
The Dallas Express reached out to the district for comment.
A district spokesperson stated, “Dallas ISD does not comment on pending litigation.”