School Forced Boy Onto Psycho Rx: Suit


September 24, 2002 --

LITTLE Michael Mozer was driven mad by prescription drugs school officials forced his mother to give him. Now he wants to dish out some harsh medicine to the "educators" and doctors who nearly ruined his life.

The family of the 12-year-old Dutchess County boy has filed a suit in White Plains federal court that they hope will change the way educators and doctors diagnose kids and push psychiatric medication on them.

The suit charges Michael's principal, the school district and its school psychologist with negligence and violating his constitutional rights by coercing his mom to drug him - and banning him from school unless he was medicated.

The coercion involved child-abuse allegations filed against her by educators she says were angry that she stopped doping Michael up with a cocktail of drugs that turned him into a psychotic who heard voices.

The suit also charges two Poughkeepsie doctors and the school psychologist with medical malpractice for misdiagnosing Michael with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) without properly examining him.

The doctors are also accused of diagnosing Michael with additional psychiatric problems, instead of realizing that the ADHD drug Ritalin and the drugs Paxil and Dexedrine were responsible for his anxiety attacks, insomnia and other ailments.

"I want to prevent school districts from continuing these types of strong-arm tactics on parents," said Michael's mom, Patricia Weathers, 32. "If this lawsuit will make schools stop and think of the consequences their action may have, then my son has succeeded."

The lawsuit, seeking damages of at least $75,000, also charges that no one properly informed Weathers of the possible side effects of the drugs, and that, as her son's mental health deteriorated, they pushed her to give him more powerful drugs.

The school district began pressuring Weathers to medicate Michael in 1997, when he was a first-grader, and continued to do so for two years, she charges.

Over that time, Dr. Lynee Liptay, to whom the school referred the mom, didn't require that Michael take medication on weekends and during summer vacations, court papers say.

"It shows you how ludicrous it is to call something a disease when the treatment is only required during school hours," said Michael's lawyer, Alan Milstein.

The suit also charges that another doctor referred by the school, Julia Speicher, prescribed a combination of Dexedrine and Paxil, although both drugs, alone or combined, are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for children.

By December 1999, school officials and Speicher were suggesting that Michael take Risperdal, a powerful drug used to treat schizophrenia, the court papers say.

School Superintendent W. Michael Mahoney and the others named in the suit did not return messages left at their offices.