School Injury

Maya Murphy, P.C. Education Law Publication

Joseph C. Maya, Esq. and Lauren A. Jacobson, Esq. of Maya Murphy, P.C. have published an education guidebook in the context of New York and Connecticut law. The publication was created to assist parents and children in understanding and advocating for their educational rights, and covers topics ranging from special education to school discipline. Follow this link to read the education law publication on the Maya Murphy website:

Copyright © 2023 – Maya Murphy, P.C.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry, and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of: Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law and employment law matters in New York as well. 

If you have any questions about employment law or education law in Connecticut, or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation today.

Shared Legal and Physical Custody Is Becoming More Popular

 Judges Are Finding that Shared Custody is In the Best Interests of Children

More parents are agreeing to shared custody when they divorce. Under Connecticut law, there is a presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the children. Legal custody means both parents make important decisions about their children together. The law can be found in Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56a(b).  In exceptional circumstances, such as physical abuse or substance abuse, sole legal custody may be awarded. The term physical custody means where the children primarily live. There was a time when one parent, usually the mother, had primary physical custody. The other parent, usually the father, would have parenting time with the children. Now there is a trend toward the children living with both parents. It is now more common to see expanded parenting plans. In these cases, the parents share both legal and physical custody of their children. The children will live with both parents according to a parenting arrangement in the divorce agreement.

What Factors Do Judges Consider When Awarding Shared Legal and Shared Physical Custody

  1. Do the parents live in close proximity to each other making it easier to transport the child to school without a lengthy care ride for example.
  2. Ability for the parties to co-parent – consistent if not similar rules in each house makes transition back and forth easier. However children can adapt to different rules in each parent’s home.
  3. A judge will consider how the parents treat each other and communicate – are they able to be civil and work together. Conflict between the parents is unhealthy for the children.  A shared custodial arrangement takes cooperation, mutual support and respect.
  4. Child’s preference – as the child gets older, their preference is more considered. This does not mean that children get to decide the custodial arrangement. The child’s preference is just one factor to consider.
  5. Stability in each home environment. A judge is going to evaluate each parent’s home to ensure the children will be safe, secure, and well taken care of. The well-being of the children is always paramount.
  6. Does the child have special needs and how will those needs be met and handled in each household.

Movement Toward Shared Physical Custody and Shared Parenting

There appears to be a movement towards the presumption of shared physical custody as well as shared legal custody. The courts need to look at all factors to ensure the parenting plan is in the best interests of the child. In most divorce matters, the parents have either a shared or very expanded parenting plan. This trend shows that parents can work together and communicate. The well-being of their children is always the priority. When parents work with a divorce mediator, they can be creative with their parenting plans. Parents maintain control over the parenting arrangement rather than letting a judge decide. When both parents work, the parenting schedule must be flexible. Cooperation is key when work demands require a parent to change the schedule at the last minute. In the end, the parenting schedule has to meet the needs of the children and both parents for it to succeed.

Best Interests of the Children

The phrase “best interests of the child” is the key factor when creating a parenting plan or parenting schedule. When parents live farther apart or one parent lives out of state, the parties have to work out a more creative parenting schedule. In these cases, a shared parenting schedule might not be possible. One parent might have more vacation time like school holidays and time in the summer. Courts encourage parental involvement and advise the parties to work together to share their children in the best way possible. Remember, these are your children. Connecticut courts are making it increasingly difficult for one parent to control a parenting schedule for financial gain. For example, to avoid child support because of a sharing parenting arrangement. Parental alienation and using children to “get back” at the other parent is not tolerated by the court. The courts expect parents to focus on their children which can be facilitated by working with a skilled divorce mediator.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a divorce mediator, or one of our other skilled professionals about child custody, shared legal custody, and shared physical custody or any other family law or divorce related matter, please don’t hesitate to contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221 – 3100 or via email at Our firm offers free consultations to discuss your child custody, divorce or other family matter.



Paying for College Under Connecticut Law

Parents Can Agree or a Court Will Decide 

Under Connecticut law, parents going through a divorce have to think ahead about paying for college. Although a concern for all parents, there must be language in a divorce agreement about paying for college. This can be difficult especially if you have young children and no savings. The thought of paying for college is stressful. The divorce agreement will include a provision that clearly states each parent’s financial responsibility to pay college costs. Parents can decide on their own how to pay for college. Parents can also work with a divorce mediator who helps them reach an agreement about paying for college. If parents cannot agree, the couple will go have to go to court and let a judge decide. There are rules and restrictions on how much a court can order a parent to pay.

An overview of Connecticut General Statutes 46b-56c and Educational Support Orders

Connecticut General Statute 46b-56c contains the rules and restrictions a court must follow when deciding how much each parent must pay for college. The court then enters what is called an educational support order. An educational support order covers tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses. When deciding whether to issue an educational support order, the court will consider several factors. These factors include the cost of college, the parents’ income and financial resources. Financial aid, scholarships, and grants are also considered. Connecticut law allows for a modification of an educational support order if there is a substantial change in circumstances like a parent losing a job or becoming ill. The law also limits the amount each parent has to pay based on the current in state tuition at the University of Connecticut.

Parents’ Contributions

The court may order one or both parents to contribute to the college expenses of their child. The order might include a requirement for payment of tuition, room and board, and other necessary expenses related to the child’s education. Parents might share equally or one parent might pay more because they have a higher income or more assets. The court’s order should be reasonable based on the parents’ financial ability to pay.

Work with a Divorce Mediator

Divorce mediation is an affordable and less adversarial way to reach an agreement on paying for college. A divorce mediator will help the parents create their own agreement rather than take their chances in court with a judge. Divorce mediators offer guidance so you can understand what the laws in Connecticut say about paying for college. A mediator cannot render an opinion on either parent’s obligation but can educate the couple on existing laws.

Letting a Court Decide is a Gamble

When deciding if you and your spouse can afford to pay for college, a judge will focus more on the child’s best interests and not necessarily the best interests of the parents. Most parents want their child to go to college, but cannot always afford it. With the rising costs of tuition, paying for college can be difficult. If you’re negotiating an educational support order in a divorce, it’s recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in divorce and family law. Seeking advice from a divorce attorney is important to navigate this process properly. A divorce attorney will provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date legal advice based on your individual circumstances and the current laws in Connecticut.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a family law attorney, divorce attorney, divorce mediator, or one of our other skilled professionals, please don’t hesitate to contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221 – 3100 or via email at firm offers free consultations in person or video conference to discuss paying for college in your divorce, and all other family law and divorce law matters.



Special Needs Trust

Protecting Your Children With a Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is a legal document that allows an individual with a disability or special needs receive financial support while protecting their eligibility for government benefits.  The trust is like a container that holds money and assets of a person with disabilities or special needs. The trust can protect this money so the individual can receive extra support while keeping their government benefits intact.

Highlights of a Special Needs Trust

  • What Is a Trust: A special savings plan for people with disabilities or special needs.
  • How Does a Trust Work:  A trusts and estate lawyer sets up the trust, puts money in it, and chooses a person to manage it called a trustee.
  • Who Benefits From A Trust: The person with a disability or special needs is called a beneficiary of the trust.
  • Why Is A Trust Important: People with disabilities who receive government benefits can protect their savings and still not lose their government help.
  • What Kinds of Trusts Are There: Trusts differ based on where the money in the trust comes from such as savings or money from a relative like a grandparent.

How a Special Needs Trust Is Used

Parents getting divorced who have a child with special needs might consider a special needs trust. The money in trust can be used to pay for things that improve the beneficiary’s life such as medical expenses, education, travel, entertainment, and more. The money cannot be given directly to the beneficiary for things like rent, because that might affect their government benefits. The essence of the trust is to ensure their loved one with disabilities continue to receive crucial assistance while still being allowed additional financial support.

How Does It Work?
  1. Trust Creator (Grantor): Someone, often a family member, sets up the trust for the benefit of a person with a disability. This person is called the grantor.
  2. Trustee: A trustee is the person chosen to manage the trust. This person could be a family member, friend, or a professional.
  3. Funds and Assets: Money, property, or other assets are put into the trust by the grantor. These assets belong to the trust and managed by the trustee.
  4. Beneficiary: The person with special needs is the beneficiary. The trust is meant to improve their quality of life by providing extra financial help.
Why Is It Important?

Government aid programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) help people with disabilities. A disabled person who has too much money or assets in their name could lose access to crucial programs. Money and assets in a special needs trust do not count against the person when they apply for government benefits. This protection allows them to get the help they need from government resources. Always seek legal advice to set up a trust properly according to the specific laws in your area.

In Conclusion

A special needs trust should be considered when you are contemplating divorce or in the process of a divorce. The special needs of children should never be overlooked in a divorce settlement. Maya Murphy, P.C. specializes in trusts and estates as well as education law, and divorce and family law. Special needs trusts must be prepared properly to protect assets and benefits for people with learning challenges and disabilities.

Written by Attorney Mediator Susan Wakefield

If you have any questions or would like to speak to one of our skilled professionals about setting up a special needs trust in your divorce, please contact Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221 – 3100 or via email at or Our firm offers free consultations in person or video conference to discuss your trusts and estates matters, divorce, or other matters we handle here at Maya Murphy.



How to File a Personal Injury Claim Against a School in Connecticut

If you have a personal injury claim against a school, a school employee, or a similar government entity or employee, you probably already know that it’s more complicated than just suing a private homeowner for a slip-and-fall. But what makes it so complicated, and what is the process?

Schools and their employees are often immune from liability for actions they undertake within the course and scope of their duties. That immunity is not unlimited, however, and particularly where a child’s injury is caused by gross negligence, malice, or wantonness, you can be compensated with monetary damages. CGS § 4-141, et seq. But, before you take your case to court, your case must be reviewed by the Commissioner of Claims.

Depending on the value of your case, the Commissioner of Claims will review your case, and may conduct a fact finding investigation, including witness interviews, document inspections, and other types of inquiries. The parties may engage in discovery in some cases, and the Attorney General may also be permitted to file a dispositive motion that asks the Commissioner to decide the issues in the case just on the known facts and law, but without a full hearing or trial. Once the Commissioner of Claims’ investigation (if applicable) is complete, s/he may issue a decision, or if there are unresolved legal issues, they may authorize you to file suit in

Navigating an administrative process with an administrative authority requires expert guidance. Small mistakes such as misunderstanding a statute or missing a deadline can impact or even eliminate your ability to seek relief.

If you have a personal injury claim against a school, school employee, or a similar government entity, the attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. can assist you. Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya may be reached directly by telephone at (203) 221-3100 or by email at

The above is not intended to constitute legal advice, and you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have this, or any other type of claim.

Former Student Brings Title IX Suit Against Wesleyan University

In a case that garnered national attention, a former Wesleyan University student filed a federal lawsuit in Connecticut’s district court against Wesleyan, alleging that the university failed to protect her from the dangers of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.  The female says she was raped at the fraternity two years ago at a party.

The Complaints

The complaint charged Wesleyan with violating Title IX and alleged that the university violated the federal law by failing “to supervise, discipline, warn or take other corrective action” against the Mu Epsilon chapter of the Beta fraternity.  The complaint further stated that the university “did nothing to prevent, and was deliberately indifferent to, the harm caused to Jane Doe by the rape and outrageous sexual harassment and intimidation that followed her everywhere on campus.”

Finally, the complaint alleged that the school “acted with deliberate indifference towards the rights of Jane Doe and other female students to a safe and secure education environment thus materially impairing Jane Doe’s ability to pursue her education at Wesleyan in violation of the requirements of Title IX.”[1]

Her complaint seeks punitive damages for negligence, Title IX violations, and premises liability. Title IX is the federal gender-equality law, which states in part that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

The legislation covers all educational and non-sport activities, such as school clubs and bands.  As such, the impact of the legislation is far-reaching and can touch many different aspects of one’s life.  If you feel that you or a loved one is being discriminated against on the basis of gender or sex, you should consult with an attorney experienced in the complicated field of employment law.

Our attorneys represent employees throughout Fairfield County, and are ready to advocate on your behalf.  Please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at, to schedule a free initial consultation today.



In Negligence Suit, Superior Court Finds in Favor of Defendant School District, Citing Qualified Immunity

In a recent negligence action, the Superior Court of Connecticut in Litchfield granted a motion to strike filed by school officials and a town board of education (collectively the defendants) because no exception to qualified immunity for discretionary acts applied to the case.

Case Details

One day during recess, a parent’s daughter was kicked and injured by a classmate (defendant student). The defendants were aware that the daughter was frequently bullied and harassed by the defendant student. Therefore, the parent filed suit, alleging that the defendant “failed in its duty to protect [his daughter] against any future bullying.”  However, the defendants asserted that they were not subject to liability because of governmental immunity.

Generally, municipal employees enjoy “qualified immunity in the performance of a governmental duty,”[1] which involves the exercise of discretion. However, even this immunity may be surmounted by a plaintiff if he or she can establish the applicability of one of three exceptions.

Identifiable Person-Imminent Harm

One of these exceptions is the “identifiable person-imminent harm” exception, which requires: “(1) an identifiable victim; (2) an imminent harm; and (3) a public official to whom it is apparent that his or her conduct is likely to subject that victim to that harm.”[2] This is a narrowly applied exception, however, because the harm itself must be “limited both in duration and in geography to make it apparent to the defendants that schoolchildren were subject to imminent harm.”[3] In other words:

Imminent harm excludes risks which might occur, if at all, at some unspecified time in the future. In order to meet the imminent harm prong of this exception… the risk must be temporary and of short duration.[4]

In this case, the Court found that although the plaintiff satisfied the first prong, he failed to do so with the second two. He failed to “allege a temporary condition which placed [his daughter] in imminent harm;” rather, it could have happened anytime, anywhere during the school day.[5] The defendants’ knowledge of the previous bullying and harassment, without more, was insufficient to satisfy the remainder of the test. Therefore, the Court ruled that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity and granted the motion to strike.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

If you are the parent of a child who has been bullied or harassed at school, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable school law practitioner. The attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C., assist clients in Bridgeport, Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Stamford, and Westport.

If you have any questions regarding school liability or any other education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport, Connecticut by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at

[1] Burns v. Board of Education, 228 Conn. 640, 645 (1994).

[2] Violano v. Fernandez, 280 Conn. 310, 319-20 (2006).

[3] Doe v. Board of Education, 76 Conn. App. 296, 302-03 (2003).

[4] Cady v. Tolland, 2006 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3526.

[5] Antalik et al. v. Thomaston Board of Education, 2008 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2082.

Student’s Negligence Action Against School

Student’s Negligence Action Against School, City of Stamford Survives Motion for Summary Judgment
Case Background

Jesse was a twenty-year-old special education student attending high school in Stamford. She repeatedly informed teachers and school officials about the unwanted romantic advances made by her classmate, Jonathan, but no action was ever taken. On February 28, 2005, Jesse asked to use the restroom located in the special education classroom; she was then sexually assaulted by Jonathan. Both students were sent to the office of the special education coordinator, and Jesse explained what occurred. Despite this knowledge, school officials permitted the two to ride on the same school bus home, during which Jesse was teased and called a liar by Jonathan.

Various teachers and staff, the Board of Education, and even the City of Stamford were later sued in a negligence action filed by Jesse. She contended that “the defendants were aware of [Jonathan’s behavior], but they failed to take appropriate measures to protect [her] from the sexual assault.”[1] However, in their motion for summary judgment, the defendants claimed protection through governmental immunity.

Governmental Immunity

Municipal employees are “liable for the misperformance of ministerial acts, but has qualified immunity in the performance of governmental acts…”[2] Basically, governmental acts are supervisory and discretionary, while ministerial acts must “be performed in a prescribed manner without the exercise of judgment or discretion.”[3] However, even if a defendant successfully claims, as they did in this case, that the acts in question were discretionary, thus invoking governmental immunity, a plaintiff may still defeat a motion for summary judgment by asserting one of three exceptions (discussed in greater detail here): in this case, the identifiable person-imminent harm exception.

The identifiable person-imminent harm exception requires a showing of three things: “(1) an imminent harm; (2) an identifiable victim; and (3) a public official to whom it is apparent that his or her conduct is likely to subject that victim to that harm.”[4] A person will be deemed “identifiable… if the harm occurs within a limited temporal and geographical zone, involving a temporary condition;”[5] a harm is imminent if it is “ready to take place within the immediate future.”[6]

The Court’s Decision

In discussing the motion to dismiss, the Court agreed that Jesse was an identifiable victim of the assault, but she failed to meet the imminent harm requirement. There was no evidence on the record as to when the previous sexual advances were made, nor did she show that the defendants should have known the sexual assault would take place on or about February 28, 2005.[7] However, the Court agreed that the exception was satisfied as to the school officials’ conduct in allowing the two to ride home together:

[Two school officials] admit in their affidavits that they knew some sort of sexual conduct had occurred between [Jesse] and [Jonathan]. Despite this fact, they did not stop [Jesse] from taking the bus with [Jonathan]. At that time, [Jesse] was an identifiable victim of harassment by [Jonathan], and the risk was limited in geographic and temporal scope because [Jesse] and [Jonathan] were riding the bus together and the risk only lasted the duration of the bus ride home. Moreover, the risk of harm was arguably imminent because the dismissal bell had just sounded to release the students early because of a snowstorm, and the bus would presumably be leaving soon thereafter.

Thus, the Court denied the motion for summary judgment as to most of the counts in the complaint (it granted the motion as to one negligence per se count). Although the lawsuit was later withdrawn[8] by Jesse, this case nonetheless serves as another example of a student and/or parent surviving a motion for summary judgment in the face of defendants asserting governmental immunity protection.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq.

Should you have any questions about any education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Attorney Joseph C. Maya, Esq. He may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C. in Westport, Connecticut by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at

[1] Estrada v. Stamford Board of Education et al., Superior Court, judicial district of Stamford, Docket No. CT 06 5002313. 2010 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3022 (November 19, 2010, Tobin, J.).

[2] Bonington v. Westport, 297 Conn. 297, 306, 999 A.2d 700 (2010).

[3] Id.

[4] Cotto v. Board of Education, 294 Conn. 265, 273, 984 A.2d 58 (2009).

[5] Id. at 275-76.

[6] Stavrakis v. Price, Superior Court, judicial district of Litchfield, Docket No. CV 10 6001285, 2010 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2257 (September 7, 2010, Roche, J.).

[7] See Footnote 1.


Material Issues Surrounding Circumstances of Student’s Suicide

On November 4, 2003, Terence Leary, a Wesleyan University (Wesleyan) student and pitcher on the school’s baseball team,[1] called the campus public safety officers complaining about a panic attack he was experiencing. Although Terence was transported by the officers to a nearby hospital, they simply dropped him off and departed “without further investigating or securing medical attention for him.” Soon thereafter, Terence left the hospital because he “couldn’t take it”[2] and committed suicide by drowning in a nearby creek. His death “sent ripples across the campus.”[3]

Allegations Against the School

Terence’s family elected to sue Wesleyan under a negligence theory, arguing that the school “(1) hired and retained inadequate safety personnel; (2) failed to properly train its security personnel; and (3) did not follow appropriate measures for handling distressed students.”[4] It further alleged:

[T]he security personnel (1) knew or should have known that Terence Leary was in a distressed condition, had suicidal tendencies and was a threat to himself, and they failed to investigate or provide Leary with adequate care; (2) failed to make sure Terence Leary received adequate treatment at the hospital; and (3) the university failed to conduct a proper investigation into Leary’s mental history.[5]

Wesleyan filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the lawsuit. It countered that Terence’s death was caused by his own negligent actions; thus, they were not liable. It further contended that it owed no duty to Terence because the law does not recognize a special relationship between a university and its students.

Connecticut law does not recognize a general duty to protect others from harming themselves, unless there is a special relationship between the two parties. A “duty arises particularly in special relationships where the plaintiff is typically in some respect particularly vulnerable and dependent upon the defendant who, correspondingly, holds considerable power over the plaintiff’s welfare.”[6] Thus, a threshold inquiry is whether one party had custody or control of the other party.

The Court’s Decision

In this case, the Court found that the public safety officers, as agents of Wesleyan, had custody or control of Terence, because their “status as police officers created the perception that they controlled the situation.”[7] As such, they had the ability to prevent Terence from leaving the hospital prior to receiving medical attention.

The Court went to great length describing liability for “gratuitously undertaking to render services to another… [which is] based on the control that the individual has in the circumstances, and the power he assumes over the plaintiff’s welfare.”[8] A person will be liable for negligent performance of this undertaking[9] because “one [who] takes charge and control of [a] situation… is regarded as entering into a relation which is attenuated with responsibility.”[10] The Court further noted the great extent to which Wesleyan provided emergency services and information to its student body, and found that the officer’s actions actually increased the risk of harm to Terence.[11]

A Foreseeable Tragedy

Finally, the Court determined that Terence’s suicide was foreseeable, even though he had not previously made any threats on the night of his death or beforehand. Based on the transcript of Terence’s emergency phone call, a security expert for the plaintiff testified that “[Wesleyan’s] public safety officials should have recognized that [Terence] was in a mental crisis and could have been harmful to himself,” but failed to follow the provisions of Wesleyan’s own public policy manual that specifically addresses how to handle student mental health crises.[12]

As the Court further noted, these policies “provided evidence that the defendant was aware that suicide was a general risk, when dealing with an individual who was in mental distress.”[13] Thus, the motion for summary judgment was denied as to the negligence claim because of genuine issues of material fact related to control and custody of Terence and his mental distress when he placed the emergency call.


Increasingly, we are seeing Connecticut courts willing to hold elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities responsible for tortious or negligent acts committed against students. If you personally or, if a parent, your child was the victim of an assault or other occurrence while under the supervision of school personnel, it is important that you seek an experienced school law practitioner to understand your rights and courses of action.

Written by Lindsay E. Raber, Esq

If you have any questions regarding negligence liability or any education law matter, please do not hesitate to contact Joseph Maya and the other experienced education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation.

[1] “Friends, family unite to share memories of Leary,” by Miriam Gottfried. Published November 14, 2003. Accessed October 8, 2012:

[2] “Student’s death stuns Wesleyan community,” by Miriam Gottfried. Published November 7, 2003. Accessed October 8, 2012:

[3] Id.

[4] Douglas Leary v. Wesleyan University, 2009 Conn. Super. LEXIS 621 at 2.

[5] Id.

[6] Coville v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 57 Conn. App. 275, 281 (2000).

[7] Leary, supra at 12-13.

[8] Id. at 17-18, citing McClure v. Fairfield University, Superior Court, judicial district of Waterbury, Docket No. CV 000159028 (June 19, 2003, Gallagher, J.) (35 Conn. L. Rptr. 169, 2003 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1778)

[9] Coville, supra 57 Conn. App. 281.

[10] McClure, supra, 35 Conn. L. Rptr. 169, 2003 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1778.

[11] Leary, supra, at 22-23.

[12] Id. at 27.

[13] Id. at 33.

What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Education

One of the reasons that parents work so hard is to be able to provide a better life and a better future for their children. The bedrock of a bright future is a good education.  As a parent, it is important to understand your rights and obligations when it comes to your child’s education.

Adequate Education

As a parent, you are required to have your children enrolled in public school unless the parent can show that the child is receiving equivalent instruction elsewhere. Under Connecticut law, the child must be “instructed in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic and United States history and in citizenship, including a study of the town, state and federal governments.” Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-184.

School Accommodations

The local school board is required to provide school accommodations to every child, age five (5) or over and under twenty-one (21), with a free appropriate public education. This includes children with special needs. The law also provides for your child’s education to take place in the district in which you live.


The State of Connecticut has strict regulations concerning a child’s absence from school. Specifically, the State declares a child who has four (4) or more unexcused absences in a month or ten (10) or more unexcused absences during the school year as a “truant.” The designation of your child as a truant results in the activation of certain policies and procedures of the school board, including but not limited to, the notification of the parents, services and referrals to community organizations offering family support, meetings with the parents and school personnel, and possible notification to the Superior Court.  Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-198a. Habitual truants could even face arrest for failure to attend school. Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-200.

Open Choice

Connecticut law has established alternatives to traditional public school education. A parent can home school their children, as long as they comply with Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-184. A parent can choose to send their child to private school, as long as that private school conforms to Connecticut’s laws. But what many parents are not aware of is that Connecticut also offers charter, magnet and vocational schools, and the “open choice” program.  Given the number of opportunities available to parents and children in Connecticut, it is important to research the various options to find the best match for you and your child.


The school has the right to discipline your child for breaking school rules. This could mean removing your child from the classroom, giving an in-school suspension, giving an out-of-school suspension, or even expelling your child from school. Prior to any suspension or removal, your child has the right to an informal hearing conducted by a school administrator. If the school is attempting to expel your client, there will be an expulsion hearing. You have a right to an attorney during these proceedings.


The school, prior to prescribing any medication to your child, must receive a written order from an authorized prescriber, the written authorization of the child’s parent or guardian, and the written permission of the parent allowing communication between the prescriber and the school nurse.  Conn. Gen. Stat. § 10-212a-2(b). The law also permits school districts to allow children to self-administer prescribed emergency medications, such as asthma inhalers, if the child has a verified chronic medical condition and is capable to self-administer.


Bullying has become a pervasive problem within schools. State and Federal laws state that the school must investigate reports of bullying. The schools are obligated to meet with the children that are being bullied and whom are doing the bullying. If the schools fail to take certain steps to protect children from bullying, the school could be subject to civil liability. Therefore, if your child is being bullied, bring it to the attention of the schools so that they can attempt to remediate the situation.

Bullying is not just peer-on-peer. In Frank v. State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families, the Court upheld a hearing officer’s decision placing Mr. Frank’s name on the child abuse and neglect registry, for his bullying of one of his students. Consequently, as a parent you should be aware that bullying can take many forms, and can occur by teachers and other faculty members. 2010 Conn. Super. LEXIS 3085, J.D. of New Britain, Docket No. CV-10-6005213-S (2010).

School Records

A parent has the right to see their child’s school records. A school is required to provide you with a copy of your child’s records within 45 days (within 10 days if your child is receiving special education services).  The school also has to provide the records free of cost if you are unable to afford the copying fees.

The school is not allowed to share your child’s school records without your written permission. While they are allowed to share your child’s records with other teachers and staff within the school system (or outside the school system in the case of an emergency), generally, your child’s records are private.

If you have any questions regarding your child’s education, or any education law matter, contact Attorney Joseph Maya and the other experienced education law attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or by email at