A 14-year-old student who was forced to urinate in a bucket after being denied a toilet break has won more than $1.5 million in damages in a lawsuit against a California school district.
The student’s request to go to the bathroom came during a 25-minute class at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego.
But the teacher, Gonja Wolf, believed a strict, no-toilet break policy applied.
According to the BBC, lawyers for the teacher and school district said Ms Wolf had attempted to come up with a compromise, directing the student to use a closet where she could urinate in a bucket and empty it into the sink.
The gossip and bullying that came after the event led to the student’s anxiety, depression, and attempted suicide, one of her attorneys, Brian Watkins, told local newspaper the San Diego-Union Tribune.
“Something like this never should have happened to a 14-year-old girl just entering high school,” Mr Watkins said.
“She took the stand and told a really embarrassing story, she told the jury how this has affected her life and how she is still working through issues.”
The student also transferred schools twice over the incident, Mr Watkins said.
‘Lapse of judgment’
Now, five years after the incident, the school district has been ordered to pay up more than $US1.25 million ($1.66 million) in damages and $US41,000 ($54,000) in medical expenses, after the Superior Court jury sided with the former student.
According to the Union-Tribune, Ms Wolf’s attorney, Kathryn Martin, told jurors that in a “lapse of judgment, [Ms Wolf] thought that was a good idea”.
The BBC reports that Ms Wolf was put on paid administrative leave after the incident, and the school apologised to the student and her mother, clarifying that toilet breaks were permitted.
The school district said it was “disappointed” by the verdict and considering whether or not to appeal.