The state-supported boarding school serves deaf students from across Texas and pays for airline tickets for those who live far away to fly home each weekend. School officials say they have the right to pool bonus points earned to offset some travel expenses, such as paying for chaperones to fly with students.
The woman, identified only as D.G. in the lawsuit, said the school violated a policy of Southwest Airlines by not giving the so-called Rapid Rewards points, which can be accumulated for free flights, to the woman’s daughter, according to the federal lawsuit.
„The airline has a policy that very clearly says you can’t give away your points, and the mother just wanted some assurance that it would be OK,“ said the plaintiff’s lawyer, Karen Daglish Seal.
Leonard Schwartz, a lawyer for the school, said it did not violate airline policy because the policy says the reward points can be used by others.
He said the school paid for all the airline tickets for the daughter of the woman who sued the school.
Using the bonus points saves the school $30,000 a year, which helps pay for a teacher, he said.
Seal said the mother is also suing the school because she said officials violated her daughter’s privacy rights by providing confidential information, such as her daughter’s home address and phone number, to the airlines when they bought her daughter’s tickets.
The mother didn’t say in the suit how much money she is seeking but said she wants damages to cover the cost of having to move from El Paso to Killeen to avoid the conflict in the airline policy and the school’s policy. She also wants compensation for emotional pain and loss of privacy, the lawsuit said.
The school kept providing the confidential information even after the mother withdrew her permission to use it, Seal said.
„How would we get the child home if we didn’t do it?“ Schwartz said. „The mother didn’t offer to pay for the tickets.“
The school no longer pays for airline tickets for her daughter because the woman lives closer to the school now, Schwartz said.
Seal said the lawsuit could have been avoided if a school official had held a meeting for the mother and a representative from the airlines to make sure the school’s use of bonus points did not violate airline policy.
The mother never requested such a meeting, Schwartz said.
© By Claire Osborn