Shiloh School District 85 removed a St. Clair County civil suit on Oct. 3, arguing it belongs in federal court because the matter deals with alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ranier and Laura Reuther filed suit against the school on Sept. 18 on behalf of their minor son Jakob, 13, who is a student at Shiloh School.

Laura Reuther ran for a seat on the school board but lost in the April 17 election.

According to their complaint, Jakob is blind and is confined to a wheel chair due to cerebral palsy.

The Reuthers claim prior to Jakob's enrollment they met with school officials to make them aware of their son's handicaps.

They claim the school was aware that they were required to provide a certified licensed aide for Jakob at all times otherwise there was a high probability that he would be injured.

According to the complaint, on May 6, 2004, a substitute aid placed a hot tray of food in front of Jakob and he placed his elbow in peas which caused burns bad enough that they blistered and scarred and caused significant pain and suffering along with disfigurement.

The Reuthers also claim that on Sept. 28, 2005, they informed the superintendent that the occupational therapist was having a difficult time in finding a sink for Jakob to wash his hands and that the sink being used was not ADA compliant for children aged 6-12.

According to the complaint, on Nov. 27, 2005, Jakob and his occupational therapist were in the faculty bathroom washing his hands when his head went forward smacking his forehead on the front of the sink which left a large bump on his head and a mild concussion.

The Reuthers also claim that on Dec. 7, 2005, they requested alternative seating for Jakob because of his physical limitations from cerebral palsy and spasticity in his hips. However five days later, Jakob was forced to stay in a "stander" for a long period of time even though he was crying and stating he was in severe pain.

According to the complaint, the teacher informed the parents that she did not believe Jakob was in pain because he was not producing tears.

"Jakob's teacher was well aware of the fact that Jakob was blind and should have known he could not produce tears," the complaint states.

The complaint also states that on Dec. 9, 2005, Jakob's visual aid gave him a "latex spider ball" to play with even though the school was aware that he was highly allergic to latex, which caused him to break out in hives.

The Reuthers claim the school was negligent by:

  • failing to provide an aide for Jakob in the classroom as required by federal law and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;

  • failing to install ADA compliant sinks in the bathroom;

  • failing to take Jakob's physical limitations into account when developing an individual educational plan as required by federal law; and

  • failing to convey Jakob's needs to his teachers in order to prevent physical harm and injury.

    Represented by Heather Wescoat of Belleville, the Reuthers are seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

    Shiloh School is represented by Julie A. Bruch of Northbrook, Ill.

    The case has been assigned to District Judge Phil Gilbert in Benton.

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