U.S. District Court Judge Ron Clark has sided with the Lewisville Independent School District in a lawsuit that alleges the district was partially responsible for a young boy's suicide under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The family of Montana Lance filed a lawsuit against the Lewisville school district after the 9-year-old hanged himself in the nurse's office at The Colony's Stewarts Creek Elementary School in 2010. The family accused officials of ignoring warning signs of bullying that led to the child's suicide and said he was discriminated against because of his disabilities.
According to the lawsuit, Lance had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, emotional disturbance and a speech impairment.
Magistrate Judge Amos Mazzant found no evidence that the district ignored bullying based on the boy's disability. Rather, he found that the district’s response to all bullying was inadequate and that Lance was treated no differently than any other child who had been bullied.
The judge also found that the district did not have a duty to protect the child from private violence based on the “special relationship” theory of liability -- which only assigns liability for incarcerated individuals or children in foster care who are victimized.
Mazzant denied the defense’s motion to dismiss the suit as moot due to a lack of evidence from the plaintiff supporting their claim of discrimination. Clark reaffirmed that opinion this week.
The family objected to the court's recommendation, and that objection was overruled.
Jason Lance, the boy's father, said he plans to appeal.
"I called the guys and said, 'What are we going to do?' And they said we are going to appeal it, and we are prepared to take it all the way to the top. This is not right," he said.
His wife, Debbie, died on Sunday.
"If she would have been still alive, no, this would have pushed her right over the edge, because she's given everything she had to everybody, the community. She reached out to everybody," Lance said.
"People we've made friends with -- it's suicide due to bullying, and it's a circle that I hope none of the viewers ever have to be a part of, because the club, the membership, it’s too damn high," he said.
The district is not commenting on the ruling.
NBC 5's Ray Villeda and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.