Should DPS Pay for Jennifer Carter's Wrongdoing?

February 2010

Just weeks ago, when Jennifer Carter, a former secretary at Palmer Elementary, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for silencing a disruptive six-year-old student by taping his hands together and his mouth shut, it seemed the incident was nearing an end (via Westword). But now, Ashlye Tenner, the boy's mom, has filed notice that she intends to sue Denver Public Schools for $500,000 (via 7News). That's caught the attention of The Denver Post's Susan Greene, who, while sympathetic to the plight of the boy, wonders if his mother is taking things too far. Greene rolls out a long list of issues, including that the boy should have been home that day because he'd been suspended for misbehavior and that when DPS officials found out what happened, they promptly fired Carter. That doesn't excuse Carter, Greene writes, but it makes it harder for Tenner to argue that her family suffered irreparable harm and emotional distress at the hands of a negligent school district. Greene continues, "Nothing adds to a kid's trauma more than a parent making even more of a big deal out of something---as Tenner did by getting herself booked to fly to New York City to air her grievances on CBS's 'Early Show.'" Greene uncovers one more nugget: Oddly, this isn't the first time a parent has sued DPS for a mouth-taping case. Another one, involving a second-grader, was tossed out by a Denver judge in 2008.