YORK, Pa. — A school officer for the School District of the City of York displayed a “willful disregard” of the safety of a 7-year-old, first-grade student when he “abandoned” the child in an empty house after driving him home during an early dismissal due to a snowstorm, the student’s father claims in a federal lawsuit filed in U.S. Middle District Court.
The officer’s actions on January 29 left the boy traumatized, the lawsuit claims.
The plaintiff, identified only by initials in court documents, is suing the School District of York and the officer, Randolph Hernandez, for unspecified damages.
Reporters reached out to school officials for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
In the lawsuit, the student’s father claims an unidentified staff member at the school told him an early dismissal was likely when he dropped his son off at McKinley K-8 on the morning of January 29. Normally, the school dismisses at 1:30 p.m. under those circumstances, the father claims in the suit.
But the school was dismissed at 12:30 p.m. that day, the lawsuit says. When the father arrived at the school to pick up his son at 1 p.m., he was told Hernandez had already taken his son home.
“Knowing no one was home at the time, [the father] immediately left the school and immediately went straight home,” the lawsuit claims.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit claims, Hernandez drove the student home between 12:30 and 1 p.m. When they arrived at the student’s home, the suit says, “Officer Hernandez did not get out of his vehicle and merely watched [the boy] walk to the front door and enter.”
“Officer Hernandez made no attempt to verify that an adult was home at the time,” the suit claims.
When the student’s father arrived home at about 1:15 p.m., the suit claims, he found the student “in the living room on a couch, with his coat still on, in the fetal position and crying.”
The lawsuit argues Hernandez exhibited a “willful disregard for [the student’s] safety and well-being” by leaving him “abandoned without any supervision” at the home.
As a result, the suit claims, the student suffered anxiety and mental anguish, along with fear and fright and past and future mental pain and suffering.
The student’s civil rights were also violated, the lawsuit contends.
The father is seeking compensatory damages, reasonable attorney fees and costs, and “other financial or equitable relief as is reasonable and just.”