Federal court to hear school lawsuit

LISBON — The lawsuit filed on behalf of the the former McKinley Elementary School student who was wrongly accused of making a bomb threat has been moved to federal district court in Cleveland.

This was done after the law firm representing the Lisbon school district asked the case be transferred from Columbiana County Common Pleas Court because of constitutional issues raised as part of the lawsuit filed by the boy’s mother in February.

Deborah Heiney of Rogers filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son, who was in the fifth grade at McKinley Elementary on March 8, 2018, when the words “bomb school” were found on the boys’ restroom wall. This resulted in the building being evacuated until it could be searched by police and firefighters.

According to the lawsuit, Heiney’s son was brought into the office of Principal Dan Kemats, where he was wrongly accused of writing the vague message. She said her son was subjected to “harassment, interrogation, accusation (sic), yelling,” and threatened with arrest, all of which left him “in fear of his safety … “

The youth was forced to remain there until his mother arrived, and she said the abovementioned accusations, yelling and threats by school officials continued with her present. At one point, the mother offered to have her son provide police and school officials with handwriting samples to prove his innocence, but the offer was ignored. Instead, her son was immediately suspended from school and threatened with criminal charges. Several days later another boy was charged in county juvenile court with inducing panic and later pleaded guilty to writing the words.

In response to the lawsuit, the school district’s attorneys filed a motion noting Heiney alleged her son’s constitutional rights had been violated in general and asked for further clarification. Heiney’s attorneys responded on March 29, saying school officials violated her son’s rights to due process under the 14th Amendment. This was the basis for transferring the lawsuit to federal court.

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