W-JCC School Board requests court dismiss $25,000 civil suit

The Williamsburg-James City County School Board is requesting a judge drop a civil case brought against the school district by parents of a former student.

Lawyers with the firm representing W-JCC filed the motion to dismiss in Williamsburg-James City County General District Court Tuesday. It claims the suit John and Sandra Magda filed in their daughter’s name May 12 is invalid because it names the “School District” as a defendant, according to court documents.

The School District isn’t a legal entity and cannot be sued, the motion states. The Magdas did also list the W-JCC School Board.

The School Board is represented by Jeremey Capps and Douglas Pittman, lawyers with the Richmond firm Harman, Claytor, Corrigan and Wellman. The Magdas have not hired a lawyer.

The Magdas laid out their allegations in a document filed with the court July 5. They claim the School Board owes them $25,000 in damages because the division inadequately handled their daughter Emma’s bullying claims while she was a student at Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School in 2015, according to court documents. 

When reached by phone, School Board Chairwoman Kyra Cook said she would not comment.

This is the second time the family has sued the board for this reason. The first was earlier this year and the case was dismissed in April on a technicality — the Magda’s incorrectly named themselves, rather than Emma, as the plaintiff, according to court documents.

The $25,000 claim comes from Emma’s medical costs, including a weekly $165 counseling visit and prescriptions for “anxiety, acute depression, and school phobia due to school bullying,” according to court documents.

 “We feel that WJCC failed to comply based on the lack of reporting and documentation regarding Emma’s safety, well-being and failure of duty,” the Magdas’ document states. “We feel that Emma’s harm both physically and mentally was caused as a result of the WJCC inactions.”

In other documents filed by the school board Tuesday, the School Board claims the Magdas haven’t adequately argued that the board violated any Virginia laws and that the school board is protected by sovereign immunity.

“The School Board is immune from suit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity,” the School Board documents claim. “It is well-established in the Commonwealth that a public school board is entitled to sovereign immunity from liability for injuries resulting from negligence.”

The two sides will face each other again at a Sept. 18 motion hearing where a judge will decide if the case has enough merit to go to trial. The trial is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 24, according to court documents.

The Magdas aren’t deterred. When reached by phone Thursday, Sandra Magda said she had only one comment.

“With our recordings and witnesses, we can prove our entire case,” she said. “They can hide behind falsehoods, slander and high-priced attorneys, wasting money better spent in the classroom, or they can stop the charade, admit the wrongs against our daughter and find a way to move forward.”

Williams can be reached at 757-345-2341.

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