Joyce Spears, Wife of/and Samuel Spears, Individually and on Behalf
Of Their Minor Son, Justin Spears
Jefferson Parish School Board
No. 94-CA-352

Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fifth Circuit
November 16, 1994

Background: Justin Spears was a kindergarten student at Woodland West Elementary School in February, 1989. Due to the weather during the students’ physical education class, they were in gym under the supervision of Coach John Brooks and Coach Johnny Peyton. Justin and two friends were being disruptive, so Coach Brooks called them to sit by him; and at this time threatened to kill the students if they did not behave. Because the behavior continued Coach Brooks brought Justin’s two friends into another room and while they were there the boys were asking him how he would kill them, since he had already threatened the children. At this point Coach Brooks came up with a plan to trick Justin into thinking that he killed the boys, and the young students went along with the plan. This traumatized Justin, in such a way that he was never the same. Justin did not want to go to school, leave his parents, or interact with anyone outside of his family.

Decision: The court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs. This meaning that the Spears family won the appeal. The court also awarded the Spears family monetary compensation. For past treatment expense the Spears family was awarded $5,498.00. For future treatment the Spears family was awarded $2,160.00. To take care of Justin’sgeneral damages the Spears family was awarded $100,000.00. Due to the loss of consortium of Mr. and Mrs. Spears, they were awarded $10,000.00 which was split by $5,000.00 each. The amount of the Spears family total award was $117,658.00.
Impact: This case may not have had a huge impact on the education system as a whole, but it did have a huge impact on Justin and his family. Justin has never been the same since this incident. He has had to go through years of therapy, and this incident has also put a strain on his family. Due to this incident it became very hard to care for Justin. As a coach, a teacher, or any person that children look up to; we should stop to evaluate our actions and the repercussions before pulling such a stunt. Justin may not have been traumatized if someone he did not know and trust pulled this prank on him; but because it was a coach that he trusted, it was hard for him separate the facts from the prank.

QuizQuestion: (essay)
  • Should a teacher or coach be able to do and say whatever they want, no matter how the students may react?