Articles Tagged with School Bullying Lawsuit

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The Clark County School District in Nevada has been ordered by a jury to pay some former students $540,000 because of an attack that happened on school property in 2013. Plaintiffs in the case say that Canyon Springs High School, Principal Ronnie Guerzon and the district did not adequately protect the victims of the attack.

Legal-Fees-PaidThree high school students were attending the “Senior Sunrise” breakfast at Canyon Springs High School in August 2013. As incoming seniors, they had been invited to the event. A text message that encouraged attendees to “bring their friends” had received wide distribution in the prior weeks. This may have helped three non-student attackers, who were all 18, to hear about the event and to decide to drop by. The intruders remained at the breakfast for about an hour with the approximately 150 other attendees.

As the event was winding down, the intruders started a food fight that had them spitting on the students. The three victims were then severely beaten. One victim was diagnosed with a skull fracture that including bleeding in the brain and another was robbed. Ultimately, the three intruders were charged with numerous crimes including battery with a deadly weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon on school property, robbery and challenges to fight. All three were convicted.

The three victims in the attack later sued the district and the school’s former principal, alleging that not enough was done to protect them from the intruders. Among the charges, the plaintiffs claim that security cameras were not operational, that identification was not being checked at the entrance and that there was not enough staff on site to provide adequate security. Court documents say that similar incidents had occurred at the same high school in the past.

For now, the school district is facing a sizable payment to the three victims of the attack. It seems likely that they will appeal the decision, though no announcement has been made. The plaintiffs’ attorney says she hopes that the district will “do more to keep kids safe,” and this is a cautionary tale for school administrators everywhere.

 

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In a new twist on the classic school bully story, one dad in New Jersey is suing his son’s school after the boy was disciplined for bullying.

schoolbullyingThe story began two years ago when Robert E. Taylor’s son was in the third grade. Identified only as “H.T.,” the boy was in the cafeteria when another boy tried to remove his sweatshirt. The t-shirt he was wearing underneath stuck to the sweatshirt, exposing the boy’s abdomen. Witnesses claimed that H.T. and at least one of his friends laughed at the other boy. The friend also drew a caricature of the boy without a shirt, and H.T. allegedly encouraged his friend to post the picture on Facebook.

The picture was never posted, but the trouble had begun. The school’s vice principal spoke to H.T. in an interview in which H.T. denied laughing at the other boy or encouraging his friend to post the picture on Facebook. Not satisfied, the vice principal kept digging, discovering that the other boy was frequently called names by students, though no one could remember H.T. ever being among the name callers.

The vice principal concluded that H.T. must be involved. In a later interview, H.T. told the principal that he had laughed at the boy and encouraged his friend to post the picture online. However, H.T. maintained that he had not participated in any other bullying activity against the other boy.

H.T. was punished for his behavior by having to miss one day of recess, but his father was not satisfied with the outcome. He appealed the punishment to the school board, eventually taking the case to the Commissioner of Education for the state. The commissioner passed the case on to the Office of Administrative Law, but Taylor doubted that he would get the results he was hoping for from that entity.

Now, he has filed a lawsuit that argues that his son’s free speech and due process rights were violated. The suit also claims racial discrimination, detailing harsher punishments for black students at the school. It remains to be seen how this case will be decided.

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How well are anti-bullying policies being implemented in America’s schools? That question is at the heart of a case against Nevada’s Clark County School District. The parents who brought the case say that not only were they not informed about the bullying their sons suffered, but also that school officials did little to investigate or correct the situation.

schoolbullyingMothers Mary Bryan and Aimee Hairr had the assistance of the ACLU when they brought their lawsuit against the district. Their complaint detailed a horrific six months in 2011 during which both of their sons were relentlessly bullied by other students at Greenspun Junior High. According to the plaintiffs, the boys were “physically assaulted, sexually assaulted, harassed, bullied, [and] sexually discriminated against.”

Hairr says that she had no idea what was happening to her son. She knew that he was becoming increasingly withdrawn, wanting to spend time alone in his room rather than with his family. Bryan’s son began being bullied when he stood up for his friend. It was Bryan who eventually overheard the two boys talking about the abuse; neither child told the parents what had been happening to them.

The school also did not disclose the ongoing problem. “We all were in the blind,” said Hairr. Bryan said she would have been satisfied if administrators had been willing to talk to them about the situation before it turned into a lawsuit.

Now, a judge has ruled that the school district must pay $200,000 to each of the families affected by the bullying. Judge Nancy Allf argued in her decision that the school district had failed to protect the boys’ right to due process under the 14th Amendment.

The district may appeal, but it seems as though this case is already changing things. The district’s bullying policy is undergoing changes to make it more effective. However, Bryan and Hairr say that the changes will make little difference unless the district ensures that staff members comply with the policy.

Any anti-bullying policy is only good as far as it is implemented. Proper training and documentation can help districts to avoid lawsuits.