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Hammond girl’s bullying leads to lawsuit against school

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Suit says Catholic school officials failed to protect teen

 The parents of a 13-year-old Hammond Catholic school student say their daughter was hospitalized because of constant bullying by two classmates and the school not only failed to take proper disciplinary action against the bullies but forced their daughter to leave the school.

William and Jeanine Holmes, the girl’s parents, allege in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in state District Court in Tangipahoa Parish that administrators at Holy Ghost Catholic School on North Oak Street failed to discipline two seventh-grade boys who allegedly “severely and traumatically bullied” the girl for months through verbal threats and taunts on social media.

 

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Failure To Prevent Bullying Can Prove Costly To School Districts

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Failure To Prevent Bullying Can Prove Costly To School Districts

 

As awareness of school bullying increases, so do parents’ expectations of school districts. With supervisory power over children all day, school districts obviously have a special responsibility to keep children safe from injuries, including harm that can come from other children. School districts are seeing a rise in lawsuits stemming from such injuries.

Recently, a Duval County, Fla., jury returned a $100,000 verdict for a minor who was violently attacked by a known school bully in S.B., by and through her Natural Parent and Guardian, Beverly Cox, v. Duval County School Board. 2013 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 3408.
The offender, a 12-year-old female, was known for her violent tendencies. S.B. sustained a left tibial tubercle avulsion fracture requiring three surgeries on her left knee. The jury awarded her $50,000 for her past pain and suffering and $50,000 for her future pain and suffering.

In New Jersey, a student who was paralyzed as a result of an in-school fight obtained a $16,344,327.15 award against the Irvington Board of Education, in A.P., an Infant by his G/A/L Pamela Patterson v. Irvington Board of Education, 2012 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 14933. The attacker had been involved in fights previously and been expelled. Plaintiff claimed that the school negligently failed to protect A.P. from harm and provide safe supervision and care. Plaintiff also asserted that Irvington had a zero tolerance policy for violence, and the school should have ensured the offender was not allowed back into the building. Irvington was found 80% at fault, while the offender was found 20% at fault.

Likewise, a school district was found liable for harm that came to a student who was attacked on the playground, sustaining an arm fracture with nerve damage in Heidenberg v. Hillel School. 1 Exp. Wit. 230988. A $4,000,000 verdict was awarded by a Florida jury. An Indiana federal judge dismissed a school bullying action following a settlement agreement in M.S. v. Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, D.H., Brett Herrick, and Colleen K. Herrick, 2011 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 201562. In that case, the parents of the offender were sued as well, and the harm was in the form of mental abuse and intimidation as opposed to physical assault.

A jury can find a school’s negligent supervision and failure to protect particularly egregious in cases involving sexual assaults and/or particularly vulnerable children. A five-year-old girl who was forced to inappropriately touch two classmates and was later expelled obtained a $160,000 settlement with the school district in a Washington Federal Court in A.K., a Minor; and S.K., A.K.’s Mother and Guardian v. Shoreline School District #412, Susanne M. Walker, and Jonathan Nessan, 2012 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 20387. A Florida jury awarded the parents of a special needs child who was sexually assaulted on a school bus $1.7 Million against the Palm Beach County School Board in T.B. and S.W., as Parents and Natural Guardians of Q.B., a Minor, v. The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, 2013 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 1270. In a Hawaii Federal Court, a class action was brought by students at a school for the deaf and blind who were sexually assaulted by the “Ringleaders,” a group of students who bullied, terrorized, assaulted, robbed, sodomized, raped, anally raped, gang raped, and sexually attacked other students in Jane Doe, Individually and as Next Friend of John Doe, a minor, and on behalf of a class of persons similarly situated, et al., v. State of Hawaii et al., 2013 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 1466.  The case settled for $5,750,000.

However, school districts cannot prevent every incident of injury in every situation. The school district was found not liable in Shirley Holman, as Parent and Natural Guardian of J.H., and Shirley Holman, Individually, v. The School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, 2012 Jury Verdicts LEXIS 18954. In that case, the student and his mother had complained about his being bullied by a group of students on several prior occasions. On the day of the assault, the student had allegedly warned a teacher that he was going to be attacked after class. The attack resulted in multiple fractures requiring surgery. Nonetheless, the jury found that the school district was not negligent.

These cases and many others reflect the rise in litigation against schools ostensibly due to higher expectations from parents who expect their children to be protected from other students. Findings of negligence and higher awards by juries reflect that society has the same expectation.

BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT for BILL: CS/CS/SB 548

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The Florida Senate
BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT
(This document is based on the provisions contained in the legislation as of the latest date listed below.)
Prepared By: The Professional Staff of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice

BILL: CS/CS/SB 548
INTRODUCER: Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice; Criminal Justice
Committee; and Senator Simmons
SUBJECT: Bullying
DATE: March 6, 2014

ANALYST STAFF DIRECTOR REFERENCE ACTION
1. Dugger Cannon CJ Fav/CS
2. Clodfelter Sadberry ACJ Fav/CS
3. AP

Please see Section IX. for Additional Information:
COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE – Technical Changes

I. Summary:
CS/CS/SB 548 creates a criminal statute penalizing bullying and aggravated bullying. The newly
created statute provides a second degree misdemeanor penalty1
for bullying and a first degree
misdemeanor penalty2
for aggravated bullying. Cyberbullying is included in each new crime.
The elements of these two new offenses and the definitions provided in the bill are the same as
the elements and definitions in the stalking statute (found to be constitutional by the Florida
Supreme Court in 1995).

The Criminal Justice Impact Conference has determined that the bill will have an insignificant
impact on the need for prison beds.
II. Present Situation:
Bullying Statute
Florida law requires each district school board to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and
harassment in district schools.3
Violation of these policies can result in school disciplinary

1
Punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a potential fine up to $500. Sections 75.082 and 775.083, F.S.
2
Punishable by up to one year in jail and a potential fine up to $1,000.Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S.
3
Section 1006.147, F.S.
REVISED:

BILL: CS/CS/SB 548 Page 2

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COST CONSIDERATIONS OF REBECCA’S LAW: BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT

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The Florida Senate
BILL ANALYSIS AND FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT
(This document is based on the provisions contained in the legislation as of the latest date listed below.)

Prepared By: The Professional Staff of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice

BILL: CS/SB 548
INTRODUCER: Criminal Justice Committee and Senator Simmons
SUBJECT: Bullying
DATE: March 4, 2014

ANALYST STAFF DIRECTOR REFERENCE ACTION
1. Dugger Cannon CJ Fav/CS
2. Clodfelter Sadberry ACJ Pre-meeting
3. AP

Please see Section IX. for Additional Information:
COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE – Substantial Changes

I. Summary:
CS/SB 548 creates a criminal statute penalizing bullying and aggravated bullying. The newly
created statute provides a second degree misdemeanor penalty [1] for bullying and a first degree misdemeanor penalty [2] for aggravated bullying. Cyberbullying is included in each new crime.  The elements of these two new offenses and the definitions provided in the bill are the same as the elements and definitions in the stalking statute (found to be constitutional by the Florida Supreme Court in 1995).

The Criminal Justice Impact Conference has determined that the bill will have an insignificant impact on the need for prison beds.

II. Present Situation:

Bullying Statute 

Florida law requires each district school board to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying and harassment in district schools.[3]

Violation of these policies can result in school disciplinary actions being taken. Among other things, the law prohibits the bullying or harassment of any
public K-12 student or employee:

1  Punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a potential fine up to $500. Sections 75.082 and 775.083, F.S.
2  Punishable by up to one year in jail and a potential fine up to $1,000.Sections 775.082 and 775.083, F.S.
3  Section 1006.147, F.S.

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3 San Jose State students charged with hate crime against black roommate

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By Michael Martinez, CNN
updated 12:28 PM EST, Fri November 22, 2013

CNN) — Three San Jose State University students in California have been charged with racially bullying their black roommate by clamping a bicycle lock around his neck and decorating their four-bedroom suite with a Confederate flag, Nazi symbols, photos of Adolf Hitler and a white board with a racial epithet, prosecutors said Thursday.

The three students — Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield; Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis; and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre — are charged with misdemeanor hate crime and battery, the Santa Clara district attorney’s office said.

Neither the three students nor their attorneys could be immediately reached for comment.

Beaschler was booked in the Santa Clara County Jail on Thursday, with bail set at $15,000.

White students charged with hate crime

The defendants face a maximum sentence of one year in county jail if convicted, prosecutors said.

The 17-year-old roommate who was the alleged victim wasn’t named by prosecutors. He suffered a minor injury when he fought off the bike lock around his neck, prosecutors said.

“I can’t believe in the year 2013 that we’re talking about an African-American student being treated this way,” District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen told CNN. “We’re taking this case very seriously.”

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PATTON v. BICKFORD

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Court of Appeals of Kentucky.

Sheila PATTON, Administratrix of the Estate of Stephen Lawrence Patton, Appellant v. Davida BICKFORD; Paul Fanning; Ronald “Sonny” Fentress; Jeremy Hall; Angela Mullins; Lynn Handshoe; and Greg Nichols, Appellees.

No. 2012–CA–000598–MR.

— July 19, 2013

Before CLAYTON, LAMBERT, and VANMETER, Judges. Vanessa B. Cantley, Louisville, KY, for Appellant. Michael J. Schmitt, Jonathan C. Shaw, Paintsville, KY, for Appellees Davida Bickford; Paul Fanning; and Ronald “Sonny” Fentress. Neal Smith, Pikeville, KY, for Appellees Jeremy Hall; Angela Mullins; Lynn Handshoe; and Greg Nichols.

OPINION

Sheila Patton, as administratrix of Stephen Lawrence Patton’s estate (referred to as “the Estate”), appeals from the Floyd Circuit Court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of Davida Bickford (referred to as “Principal”), Paul Fanning and Ronald “Sonny” Fentress (collectively referred to as “Superintendents”), and Jeremy Hall, Angela Mullins, Lynn Handshoe, and Greg Nichols (collectively referred to as “Teachers”). For the following reasons, we affirm.

The Estate filed the underlying wrongful death action against the Teachers, Principal, and Superintendents, in their individual capacities, alleging negligence in failing to supervise Stephen Patton and other students at Allen Central Middle School (“ACMS”). The Estate claims that the Teachers, Principal, and Superintendents failed to comply with ACMS’s and Floyd County School Board’s anti-bullying policies and procedures, which resulted in Stephen’s being subjected to constant bullying, and eventually taking his own life.

The Teachers, Principal, and Superintendents moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted on two grounds: (1) the Teachers, Principal, and Superintendents were entitled to qualified official immunity and (2) Stephen’s act of suicide was an intervening and superseding act which cut off any liability. This appeal followed.

Summary judgment shall be granted only if “the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, stipulations, and admissions on file together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” CR 1 56.03. The trial court must view the record “in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion for summary judgment and all doubts are to be resolved in his favor.” Steelvest, Inc. v. Scansteel Serv. Ctr., Inc., 807 S.W.2d 476, 480 (Ky.1991) (citations omitted). Further, “a party opposing a properly supported summary judgment motion cannot defeat it without presenting at least some affirmative evidence showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact for trial.” Id. at 482 (citations omitted).

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Bullying And Psychiatric Illness Linked

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Posted by Maria Mangicaro
Bullying Prevention Advocate
mangicaro829@aol.com

February 26, 201312:00 PM

A new study on bullying shows that people who were bullied have higher rates of psychiatric illness as adults. Host Michel Martin speaks with the study’s lead author, William Coleman of Duke University, and bullying expert Rosalind Wiseman.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice.

Today, we want to return to an issue that’s been a part of childhood for decades, if not forever, but which has lately become the subject of much national concern. We’re talking again about bullying, and we’re talking about it because parents, educators and policymakers have become aware of just how traumatic bullying can be for young people.

Now, though, a new study shows that these damaging effects can follow people to adulthood. The new study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Psychiatry followed almost 1,500 children and found both victims and perpetrators of bullying had higher rates of psychiatric disorders as adults.

Click here for more at NPR