fbpx

DISD Assault Leads to Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Education

Sharla Sims | Image by WFAA

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.”

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

We welcome and appreciate comments on The Dallas Express as part of a healthy dialogue. We do ask that you be kind. Kind to each other and to everyone else in your comments. For more information, please refer to our Complete Comment Moderation Policy.

Subscribe to Comments
Notify of
guest

42 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bret
Bret
21 days ago

Stop letting liberals run things. Soft on crime leads to more crime It does not matter the mental state of the perpetrator.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Bret
20 days ago

Except there are GOP on the board. Again, stop spewing nonsense. Idiot.

DFW Citizen
DFW Citizen
21 days ago

This is so horrible. Come on disd, you’ve got to do better

Angel
Angel
21 days ago

I was assaulted in 2021 also but by a sped teacher in front of a sped student. I requested for the principal to call 911 but instead he made me wait for Dallas ISD police. Dallas ISD tried to cover it up and I have emails and other documentation to prove it.

PDO
PDO
21 days ago

Prayers go out to the Sims family. So sorry for your loss.

Djea3
Djea3
21 days ago

There actually IS a PROPER response for the Dallas Police Department and the District Attorney;

  1. Attorneys need to make an official report to the police department claiming Manslaughter and demand full investigation.
  2. The investigation needs to PROVE who knew what and when and who made the decision NOT to report the manslaughter to Police
  3. The investigation needs to include the standard procedures for the district when there are physical injuries due to violence. This proves the DUTY to report to police.
  4. Once all of this is gathered, whoever was involved and did not make the report needs to be arrested for as accessory after the fact in MURDER.
  5. Those charged need to be PROSECUTED to the FULLEST extent of the law as accessories after the fact.
  6. If the Attorneys for DISD were involved they must be charged as well and their licenses to practice law REVOKED permanently.
  7. The same investigation as to who should have permanently removed that “student” from the education system for violence prior to the death.

Lastly, DISD needs to CROSS FILE the wrongful death action against EVERY employee who had the DUTY to report to police, or remove the student and did not do so. Other teachers and aids that reported to administration should be exempt, as long as they did their duty. Administration and district personnel that knew should all face losing everything they have and will ever have.

There is NO justifiable cause for the PEOPLE of Dallas to pay the cost of this suit in any way. This was done by attorneys and social workers and administrators in the District. It should fall ONLY on their shoulders.

Anna
Anna
Reply to  Djea3
21 days ago

Very well stated!! This is a murder of a lovely woman! The family deserves Justice!!!

Joe G.
Joe G.
21 days ago

How could this happen without it being referred to the DA for prosecution? I couldn’t find a cause number on this. Has this been filed in Dallas County?

Joe G.
Joe G.
21 days ago

I want to add that this was probably known to the DISD chief of police who is a sworn peace officer. If he failed to refer this to the DA, this needs to be brought up as a matter for TCLEOSE to examine.

Val
Val
21 days ago

I have to agree that DISD is the absolute worst school district I’ve had to encounter as a parent however, this is usually preexisting. The body force of the student could have caused the final stage of the dissection causing bleeding but something must have been there before. This is going to be an interesting case. While I hope they nail disd for neglect, I also hope medical professionals have explained the ins and outs to the family.
Physically violent, large size students should be transported tot the appropriate behavioral based schools. I worked in a grouphome for boys and many kids got bussed there dailw for education simply because they was security and us teachers aides had self defense training, restraint training regularly. Does disd provide that for the staff handling special needs kids? One thing they didn’t do is tell us what kids triggers are. That would be a big help as well. A simple hand on a shoulder could set it off. Thankfully I can count on one hand how many restraints I had to do to help other staff. I want to see how this plays out.

RiverKing
RiverKing
Reply to  Val
21 days ago

Sharla Sims could have had an aortic aneurysm all of her life and not known it.

Val
Val
Reply to  RiverKing
21 days ago

Exactly

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
21 days ago

That’s why the former superintendent got the hell out. Putting that blame on someone else. The teacher assistant and her children didn’t deserve that.

DISD has a police department, what are they doing to protect teachers and students? Sitting in a office on the computer. The DA a waste of time, he will cover someone’s ASSETS.

DISD Alum
DISD Alum
21 days ago

Liberal policies produce tragedies every day. Wake up folks. Elections have consequences.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  DISD Alum
21 days ago

This is what happens with all the leftist ideas of rights. A special needs child has no business in a regular classroom. They require more attention and affects the learning curve of the entire class. It shouldn’t be the teacher’s job to be a caretaker to children with learning disabilities and mental issues. They are not nurses, babysitters or psychiatrists. They are asking way too much from teachers. Why aren’t they suing the family of the kid who attacked her? They knew that kid’s issues but probably would have screamed bloody murder if the school told them he didn’t belong in a regular classroom. Is probably why the school responded as they did. The liberal leaders have put them in a difficult and precarious position. They come up with these ridiculous ideals but someone else has to deal with the consequences. Not to mention the danger to the other students.

Val
Val
Reply to  Pap
21 days ago

They aren’t in a “regular” classroom. They don’t all belong in the same classroom either. There are tons of needs and not all of them are violent. The first time the student got physical he should have been placed appropriately for sure.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Val
20 days ago

Ok, let’s play “politically astute” and use the term “non-handicapped” students instead of “regular”. Feel.better?

So you’re saying do something after the first time he gets violent. So the first time he gets violent, he kills someone. So in your opinion, it’s okay to place students and teachers on that tightrope, instead of seriously considering possible consequences at the onset? Monday morning quarterbacking doesn’t work. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of liberal nonsense”.

Last edited 20 days ago by Pap
BER
BER
Reply to  Pap
19 days ago

Speaking of liberal!
Stop clutching your pearls! Are u the same level of outraged when kids are being gun down in school because of the LIBERAL gun laws the right demands. Bunch of hypocrites!

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  DISD Alum
21 days ago

Except there are GOP on the board. Whoops. Faulty logic there.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Bill Fox
20 days ago

Obviously, again, you miss the point. It’s not the school board making the demand to put special needs children in regular classrooms, but the LEGISLATURE. The school boards are the ones left having to deal with it.

Karen
Karen
21 days ago

No wonder Hinojosa “retired”. DISD needs to be held accountable. This is gross negligence on so many levels!

Big Al
Big Al
21 days ago

when democrats are in charge

Ladydi01
Ladydi01
Reply to  Big Al
21 days ago

You’re a fool…..

Anna Williams
Anna Williams
Reply to  Big Al
21 days ago

Citizens hire school board members. They vote for them and the school board hires the Superintendent.

There are Republicans on DISD School Board. They hired him again after the Georgia school district Fired him.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Anna Williams
20 days ago

Excuse me, but are you saying there are “some” GOP on the board or the entire board consists of GOP? Because if it is just “some”, I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. If there are dems on the board, they are somehow not as guilty, in your opinion? And by what you stated, sounds like basically the citizens are at fault. They elect the wrong members, who in turn hire a bad superintendent. It’s a snowball effect, isn’t it?

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Big Al
21 days ago

See below “Big” dummy.

Catherine Wood, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
Catherine Wood, PhD, Clinical Psychologist
21 days ago

The root problems here are (1) adequate staffing and (2) appropriate training for teachers and their assistants, as well as
(3) appropriate assessment for each special needs child, with a (4) well-designed Behavior Intervention Plan, (5) on which the educators have been adequately trained. In discussions with educators in other districts, these steps are often not taken.

Pap
Pap

Teachers should not be expected to deal with special needs children. They should have designated schools for those children and THOSE teachers have the special training required. They don’t pay the average teacher enough to be psychiatrists. If you really do have a PhD, take a cut in salary and get a grade school teaching job. Then let us know how that works out for you. It’s always easy to think you have the answers from the ivory tower.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Pap
21 days ago

And all of what you are suggesting takes more money and no one wants their property taxes to go up and we fight them every year. My ex has been a teacher for over 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of crazy and DISD doesn’t have the money to fix it all.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Bill Fox
20 days ago

Dallas can pay their city manager $410,000/year but can’t pay special needs teachers a bit more. It’s called poor money management.

Last edited 20 days ago by Pap
Val
Val
Reply to  Pap
21 days ago

They are credentialed to do so. They don’t or shouldn’t stick just anybody in who won’t know how to handle spec needs kids. If they did that was the districts first mistake.

Janet
Janet

Thanks for your informed, reasonable response! So refreshing to read a suggestion to address the issue instead of the divisive, politically motivated garbage I usually read in these comments. Amazing how some can turn a tragedy such as what this family has gone through into a way to score political points. Best to address these special needs and mental health issues in the early childhood stages before they result in tragedies like this, and we are looking for someone to blame.

rudy
rudy
21 days ago

All of the “lack of discipline” started with “Common Core” Thanks Obama.

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  rudy
21 days ago

Not true. My ex worked in some of the toughest DISD schools way before Obama and it was awful then.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Bill Fox
20 days ago

You keep saying your ex. Explains a lot.

RiverKing
RiverKing
21 days ago

Every time I see a lawsuit like this, I think the person(s) who made the faulty decision should be held personally liable. In this case and in many others, that would include criminal liability, e.g., in this case, one or more persons at DISD should be charged with negligent homicide.

Anna
Anna
21 days ago

This is beyond egregious!! This family deserves Justice for the death of their loved one!! Why isn’t the 17 year old in jail for murder??? As long as y’all continue to vote liberals, who are exceedingly soft on crime, you can’t expect to get Justice!! Prayers for the family. I’m so sorry for the loss of this beautiful lady!!

Bill Fox
Bill Fox
Reply to  Anna
21 days ago

Except we had higher crime three years in a row back in the early 00’s. We actually had the highest overall crime rate in the country. Murder rate was also higher in 2004 than last year. Please tell us again how we had less crime back in the day.

Arlene
Arlene
21 days ago

Federal law requires each public school to provide a “free, appropriate public education” as required in PL94-142 for students with what used to be called “handicapping conditions”, which will likely be a significant factor in this case.

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Arlene
20 days ago

PL94-142: “The Education for All Handicapped Children Act sometimes referred to using the acronyms EAHCA or EHA, or Public Law 94-142 was enacted by the United States Congress in 1975. This act required all public schools accepting federal funds to provide equal access to education and one free meal a day for children with physical and mental disabilities. Public schools were required to evaluate children with disabilities and create an educational plan with parent input that would emulate as closely as possible the educational experience of non-disabled students.”

See that, Bill Fox? Not the school boards…Congress (the opposite of Progress). So, Congress should be held responsible for that child with mental disability being in that classroom. It was their bright idea. It’s one thing if a child has a physical disability, another entirely if they have mental issues. It puts everyone in the school in harms way for an “ideal.”

Bob Ford
Bob Ford
20 days ago

We need to set rules and policies for not following the rules. We need corporal punishment in schools. These children need to be taught to respect their elders from day 1. PERIOD. Things are never going to change until we bring PRAYER and punishment back into our SCHOOL SYSTEM. Please don’t mistate punishment. You know what I mean there

Vicki Hawkins
Vicki Hawkins
18 days ago

I grew up in the DISD system and I am so ashamed that something like this has happened and to a Teacher no less. This kid needs to do time in jail. I am so sorry for the Family’s loss I pray for you all.