From the sound of it, at least as his parents tell it, Charles and Kristie Cripps' son was a pretty normal kid. He had some behavioral issues, largely stemming from ADHD, like insulting his classmates' penis sizes and careening around his school in the manner typical of adolescent boys.
Because of these issues, the Cripps' son was provided special education services, including a service called "social skills training," intended to teach him the differences between acceptable and unacceptable social behaviors. But the training didn't take, the boy's parents say, and their son's behavior continued to deteriorate. Tensions grew between the boy's school, his special education advocate and his mother to the point that, according a federal lawsuit filed by the Cripps against the Hurst Euless Bedford Independent School District, school officials conspired to catch him in behavior that would lead to a felony charge -- and allow his expulsion from the district.
The Cripps claim that on two occasions, the district tried to coerce the parents of kids whom their son had made fun of into filing formal sexual harassment charges against him. First, he was accused of asking a classmate if "she was making porn." After being contacted by district officials, the girls parents declined to file felony sexual harassment charges, as did the parents of a boy the Cripps' son insisted had "a penis so small you can't even see it."
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The boy's parents suggest the district tried and failed with other tactics as well. Their suit claims an administrator was sent to one of classes in an attempt to instigate a physical confrontation with him. When Cripps got up to borrow a pencil, the suit says, the administrator repeatedly stepped into his path trying to initiate contact. He bumped into the administrator, but the charges filed against him were dropped to misdemeanors, his parents say. Another school administrator followed him on multiple occasions.
Eventually, the Cripps' son was charged with a felony, for allegedly photographing one of his classmates without the classmate's permission. The boy followed his classmate -- "someone who often does crazy and funny things at school," the suit says -- into the bathroom before taking pictures of him as he sat on the toilet. Both parties to the suit concede that the photos were taken, but the Cripps insist that it was all good fun between teenage buddies.
The suit seeks reimbursement for the Cripps' son's loss of educational opportunity, mental anguish and other out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the district's actions, as well as punitive damages.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Hurst Euless Bedford Independent School District had not responded to a request for comment.