Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Lake Travis ISD faces $1.5 million lawsuit over peanut allergy incident

The white lines of a crosswalk lead to the front of a Lake Travis ISD elementary school with brick pillars.
Patricia Lim
KUT News
The parent of a former Lake Travis ISD high school student and football player has filed a federal lawsuit against the district alleging it failed to address bullying that targeted her son over his severe peanut allergy.

The parent of a former Lake Travis ISD high school student has sued the district for $1.5 million, arguing it was “deliberately indifferent” to bullying her son faced over his severe peanut allergy.

Carter Mannon transferred to a Leander ISD high school earlier this year because of the October incident in which two of the football player's teammates put peanuts in his locker, uniform and cleats, as the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Shawna Mannon filed the lawsuit Saturday in the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Texas. Superintendent Paul Norton and Lake Travis High Head Football Coach Hank Carter, Principal Debbie Garinger and Assistant Principal Sandra Surdy are named as defendants.

Lake Travis ISD said it is aware of the lawsuit.

“We take all allegations of bullying and harassment seriously,” it said in a statement.

Several people spoke out about bullying related to food allergies at a school board meeting in November. Shawna Mannon said the incident occurred after Carter's teammates asked him if his peanut allergy could kill him. She said Carter, who carries an EpiPen for his peanut allergy, told them exposure could be deadly for him.

Mannon said while one of the boys had “second thoughts” and emptied the cleats, Carter was still exposed to the residue when he held the shoes. He then developed hives on his arm.

“Since this incident, my son has faced backlash and retaliation almost daily,” she told trustees in November.

Mannon also described the punishment Carter’s teammates received as “minimal.” Both of his teammates were suspended for two games. A Lake Travis ISD investigation also determined the incident was not bullying, according to Community Impact.

During a school board meeting last month, several members of the football team argued the incident was blown out of proportion and that Mannon was sharing inaccurate information about what happened in the locker room.

The lawsuit addressed the players' remarks directly and noted that while football players said they did not witness bullying, they “acknowledged that peanuts were placed in [Carter’s] locker by [another student] with the intent to harm him.”

Mannon alleges Lake Travis ISD failed to address ongoing bullying which endangered her son’s life and violated his rights under the the Americans with Disabilities Act. The federal civil rights law protects students with food allergies from discrimination if that allergy interferes with things such as breathing and speaking.

“Despite attempts to involve school officials, the harassment continued, leading C.M. to transfer to another district for his safety,” the lawsuit states. “LTISD’s action and inaction created a hostile environment and exacerbated the situation, demonstrating deliberate discrimination against C.M. and causing him harm.”

Lake Travis ISD officials have said they disagree with the allegations in the suit.

“We look forward to responding through the appropriate legal channels,” the district said. “The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. Given that this now involves litigation, we do not plan to have any further comments at this time.”

Mannon's lawsuit also asks the court to require district staff, teachers and students to undergo “effective” training on how to prevent and stop discrimination and bullying related to a disability.

Becky Fogel is the education reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @beckyfogel.
Related Content