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‘We want justice’: Family suing Dallas ISD for negligence after death of special education teacher

Sharla Sims died in 2021, three days after being attacked by a special education student at Spruce High School. Her family's now suing DISD for its alleged failures.

DALLAS — The family of former special education teaching assistant has filed a federal lawsuit against the Dallas Independent School District

The children of Sharla Sims is accusing the district of negligence, after the teaching assistant was attacked by a student in her classroom and later died. 

“Every teacher in this city, every teacher in this state, every teacher in this country should be able to perform their job without the fear of being violently attacked at work,” said B’Ivory Lamarr, attorney for the Sims family.

Sims’ family, supporters and their attorneys held a press conference outside a Dallas ISD school on Monday, to uncover details of the lawsuit and the 56-year-old woman’s death in January 2021. 

“She was actually punched and thrown into a bookshelf repeatedly,” said Lamarr. 

According to court documents, Sims was working at Spruce High School when a special education student described as ‘a very large 17-year-old with significant behavioral and learning disabilities’ violently attacked her. 

The lawsuit reads, “Ms. Sims screamed in intense pain unable to stop the attack as others looked on helplessly.”

Attorneys claim there were at least three other documented assaults involving that student.

“DISD knew of the danger. They were well aware of it and had been. But they didn't address it,” said Kirk Claunch, another attorney representing the family.

Lawyers said Sharla Sims saw a school nurse after the attack and went home. They said doctors discovered a tear in her aorta. Sims allegedly suffered continued pain to the point she couldn’t move.

“Doctors realized this was a fatal situation,” said Claunch. 

Sims died three days after the violent attack.

Her children and family add they only found out about the January 2021 incident a few months ago, after a former Dallas ISD employee blew the whistle about administration’s alleged failed actions

“It's like you're hiding something. It's way too long. Everybody wants to know what happened. We want justice now. Period," said Brandren Sims, Sharla’s son. 

The Sims family is now seeking $20 million in damages, while demanding significant changes in Dallas ISD classrooms.

A spokesperson from Dallas ISD said the school district will not comment on pending litigation. 

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