Bullying Lawsuits in Ohio

November 12, 2012

Misc. Topics

bullying at schoolParents of an elementary student from Hamilton County, Ohio have sued the school district there over the alleged bullying of their son, a third and fourth grader at the time of the harassment.  Walter and Lisa Baker filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in mid-October becoming at least the fourth parents this year to take legal action against an Ohio school district for bullying that the school system allegedly made little attempt to remedy.

The Bakers’ case names the superintendent and principal as co-defendants.  The suit contends their son was harassed for more than a year (Sept. 2009 to Dec. 2010) and was forced to leave the school during his fourth grade year because of the bullying.

The suit alleges that the principal did not respond to their messages about the situation.  She finally met with them and assured she would conduct a formal investigation, but later told them she did not believe their child had been bulled, the parents claim.  The Bakers said they never received a written copy of any investigation about the bullying.

The six counts named in the complaint are a violation of the student’s 14th amendment rights (public school liability determination is based on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972), intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent supervision and negligent training.  The suit asks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and that the Hamilton Board of Education amend its policies and procedures to appropriately respond to bullying.

In a 1999 Supreme Court case, Davis v. Monroe County Board if Education, it was determined that private damages could be brought against a school board receiving federal funds in instances of student-on-student harassment if the school board acts with “deliberate indifference” to known acts of harassment in its programs and activities.

This case only addresses harassment that is so “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.”

Most of the bullying suits currently being filed cite the deliberate indifference standard and the Davis case’ five-part harassment test which states (1) student must be member of statutorily protected class (due to gender, race, disability) (2) peer harassment is based on the protective class (3) harassment is severe, pervasive and objectively offensive  (4) a school official with authority to address harassment has actual knowledge of it (5) school is deliberately indifferent to the harassment.

In March 2012, two other Ohio school systems were sued by parents of children who had allegedly been bullied.

On March 29, the parents of 12-year-old and 8-year-old boys who attended elementary school in the Perkins Township School District, said their sons were physically and verbally abused by classmates, but their complaints to school officials went unheeded. Dr. Patrick and Linda Waters filed suit stating nothing had been done about the bullying and they had to send both boys to private school.

In mid-March 2012, a Madison Township father announced he was suing that school district because his son had been maliciously assaulted on school property and required hospital treatment.  The parent, David Brown, said he is also suing the parents of the student who injured his son.  Brown said school employees “failed to suspend, expel or segregate” the offending student and the district should have known that the student was a “delinquent minor child with a known propensity for violent and assaultive behavior toward other students.”

In October 2011, the parents of a 14-year-old Jewish girl sued the Green school of Northeast Ohio claiming their daughter had been abused by classmates for more than four years with anti-Semitic taunts and physical abuse.  Their lawsuit named a bus driver, a guidance counselor, two principals and two superintendents who the parents said had nothing to stop the bullying or punish the aggressors.

In addition to the physical abuse and name-calling, the suit says the bullies created a Facebook page devoted to ridiculing the young girl and one principal allegedly told the girl she “enjoyed the attention.”

The lawsuit asked for a declaration that the girl’s constitutional rights were violated and sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

If your child has been the victim of personal injury at school, you may want to seek legal help.  Although it may be unpleasant, sometimes it is necessary to bring action against another student or students or school officials if they are unresponsive to your complaints.

Across the nation, several young people have committed suicide because they were bullied either at school or online or both.  Sometimes you can’t tell yourself it’s “just kids,” because the situation may be more serious than it appears.  Our experienced Ohio attorneys at Slater & Zurz LLP would be happy to help you with this or any other legal question.  Call us at 1-888-534-4850 or fill out a FREE CASE REVIEW on our website at slaterzurz.com

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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