Lawsuit: District didn’t help after student broke legs

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A lawsuit filed Monday said 12-year-old Esdras Cruz was left alone and unsupervised when he lost control of his wheelchair on a ramp, breaking both of his legs.

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — The family of a Rocky Mountain Elementary School student is suing Adams 12 Five Star Schools.

A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver Monday said 12-year-old Esdras Cruz was left alone and unsupervised when he lost control of his wheelchair on a ramp, breaking both of his legs.  

His mom, Patricia Portillo, said the school district didn’t tell her what happened. 

“That was most frustrating for us as a family, seeing that Esdras had no help in that moment and no one was giving any information on what had happened,” Portillo said. 

She said the fall changed her son’s quality of life. 

“It greatly impacted his legs, his emotional well-being. He was a very happy kid, very optimistic,” Portillo said. “Since that day, he’s a different person, sad. He fell into a depression and was on medication for months. And two years later, I don’t see him getting back to where he was. He had come so far before that day.”


Because of his disabilities, Esdras needs supervision at school. On May 10, 2022, the lawsuit said, he was left to get from his support needs room to his homeroom alone. He lost control of his wheelchair and went down a ramp, slamming into a wall and breaking his legs. 

According to the lawsuit, Esdras was never given help. His mother was not notified by the school.

“Everyone would deny me. No one knew anything. They even tried to make it seem like Esdras was lying,” Portillo said. “And that’s when I went to investigate. I asked to watch the hallway camera footage with the principal. It was hard to watch Esdras hit the wall and no one there to help him, with no supervision.”

“They couldn’t even say ‘I’m sorry,'” Portillo said. 

“Imagine how terrifying it is for anyone to suffer an injury like this – rolling down a ramp heading directly toward a wall and being able to do nothing about it,” said Igor Raykin, the attorney representing the family. “This should have never happened. If this child had been properly supervised as his special education plan said he should be, then this would have never happened.” 

Raykin said the school district failed Esdras that day.  

Before his injury, he could walk using a walker. Since then, he’s been confined to a wheelchair, the lawsuit says. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this on a child after this kind of basically deliberate indifference by the school,” Raykin said. “And frankly, look, this has been a life-altering event for this child, for his family and we think that the school should bear some responsibility for it.”

Portillo said the family hopes this lawsuit forces Rocky Mountain Elementary to finally take responsibility for what happened to her son, and hopes it will help ensure students with special needs, like Esdras, get the help they deserve.

“I would hate as a mother for any other family to go through what we went through with all of this,” Portillo said. 

Adams 12 sent this statement in response to a 9NEWS request for comment: 

“At this time, the district has yet to be served with a complaint regarding this matter. If we are served with a complaint, the district’s practice is not to share information on pending or ongoing litigation.”

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Lawsuit: District didn’t help after student broke legs

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