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Bullying Prevention According to the Law: What will be the role of adults who work with school children?

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

The controversial Pinellas School Bus Beating and the more recent Gibbs High School violent classroom fight among students highlights the issue of what role educators, school employees/volunteers and even bus drivers must take when they are witness to peer victimization and bullying. 

As Florida lawmakers consider Rebecca’s Law, which would criminalize bullying, individuals who work in schools must recognize the liability that might be placed on them. 

In 2012, a NJ school district settled a bullying lawsuit for $4.2 million. The suit against the school district alleged officials knew or should have known of his bully’s violent tendencies. The plaintiff also accused them of failing to comply with state anti-bullying laws. The plaintiff settled out of court for an undisclosed amount with the bully’s family.

While each state sets different statutes of limitations for different types of claims, many states impose a three-year statute of limitations for injury claims in general — but for children, the statute of limitations is extended until the child’s 18th birthday. So children really have until age 21 to pursue an injury claim.   Liability for bullying may have special considerations as a child who is bullied may have long-lasting repercussions that can follow into adulthood.

It will be extremely important to create a massive amount of public awareness of Rebecca’s Law and the intent of the law to prevent children from behaving like bullies, or face criminal charges and expensive lawsuits. 

Surprisingly, most Florida residents are not even aware of the fact Florida currently has an anti-bullying law and our schools have already taken initiative to put in place proactive bullying prevention programs. Under the law, they loose valuable funding if they are not in compliance. 

Under the new anti-bullying law, parents, guardians, teachers, educators, administrators, school volunteers and even school bus drivers must have a clear-cut definition and understanding of what their responsibilities will be to prevent children from behaving like bullies. 

According to Lawyers dot com, when bullying behavior is considered a crime, “teachers can be held criminally liable for turning a blind eye to bullying.”

Bullying litigation is an emerging area of law as “Parents of victims can hold bullies – as well as schools, teachers and staff – civilly liable for bullying as well. Civil law involves tort claims. Tort law holds individuals or institutions legally responsible for harmful wrongdoing. The wrongdoing can result in monetary damages paid to the victim, even if the bully or the school isn’t criminally charged. Parents can also bring lawsuits against schools if they violate their state’s anti-bullying statutes.”

The public must be educated on what causes bullying behavior among children and what their legal responsibilities will be to prevent it.

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Cyberbullying Attorney

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Published on Mar 19, 2012
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March 2013: Florida Bus Aide Bullies 5 Year Old Special Needs Student

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

Published on Apr 3, 2013
Visit My Website:http://www.adviseshow.com

Florida School Bus Aide Arrested for Allegedly Bullying 5-Year-Old Boy

March 30, 2013

A school bus aide in Port Saint Lucie, Fla. was arrested and charged with stalking after surveillance footage showed her allegedly bullying a 5-year-old boy.

Newly released surveillance videos show Daneta McPherson, 37, yelling at the boy and threatening to take him home with her.

In the video, McPherson is seen towering over the child, reducing him to tears as she berates him on the bus.

On at least one occasion, McPherson grabbed the boy and caused him to hit his head on the side of the bus, according to the police report.

A school employee first reported the alleged abuse to police and provided them with videos in December. After a four month long investigation, McPherson was arrested on Thursday.

“He’s an innocent victim,” Port Saint Lucie assistant police chief Richard Del Toro said. “It’s a violation of public trust, as far as I’m concerned.”

McPherson was released from jail on $20,000 bond. Calls to McPherson were not immediately returned Saturday.

The director of communication for the St. Lucie County Schools told “Good Morning America” that McPherson was still with the school district, but in a role away from students.

Her status with the school is pending the legal process, the spokeswoman said.

The boy’s family declined to comment.

From Education World, Bullying and School Liability: What Administrators Should Know

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

Can schools be held legally accountable for student bullying? If so, under what circumstances?

Click here to read full Article by Celine Provini, EducationWorld Editor
Education World®
Copyright © 2013 Education World

These tough questions have emerged alongside increased awareness of the detrimental effects of bullying. While almost all states have passed new, or strengthened existing, anti-bullying laws, many districts, in the face of rising family legal action concerning bullying, remain unclear regarding legally compliant policies and best practices.

EducationWorld offers the following primer for school leaders concerned about civil liability for bullying and harassment. Schools are encouraged to consult their districts’ legal counsel for information and advice regarding applicable state and federal laws.

Bullying vs. harassment

First, it’s important to note the difference between bullying and legally defined harassment. While we can all agree that any form of bullying is undesirable in a school setting, harassment occurs only when students are bullied based on personal characteristics that trigger special federal protection—namely gender, race or disability. Bullying that constitutes harassment is specifically prohibited by federal law.

It is therefore harassment-related student bullying that when left unchecked by school officials, poses the greatest legal risk. In the Leadership Insider article “School Liability for Bullying & Harassment,” article authors Seamus Boyce and Andrew Manna explain that if schools face the following five circumstances, they are legally liable for peer harassment:

  1. The bullied student is a member of a “protected class” defined under federal civil rights laws—these classes include gender, race and disability. (While his/her sexual orientation would not technically place a student in a protected class, note that in some court cases, students who were bullied for “nonconformity to gender stereotypes” have successfully claimed sex-based harassment.)
  2. The peer harassment was based on the students’ membership in a protected class (e.g., a student was repeatedly mocked for having a developmental disability).
  3. The harassment was severe, pervasive and offensive (this standard takes into account both severity and frequency; if severe, even a one-time incident can qualify).
  4. The school (an official with authority to act) had knowledge of the harassment.
  5. The school was deliberately indifferent to the harassment.

 

http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/bullying-school-legal-liability.shtml

 

Anti-Bullying PSA | North Carolina Injury Lawyers | HensonFuerst

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

Published on Sep 11, 2013
http://www.lawmed.com The personal injury lawyers of HensonFuerst are dedicated to preventing bullying and helping students, teachers, and schools ensure a safe learning environment. Have the courage, stop bullying now.

Colleton SC Lawyer David Aylor on LowCountry Live discussing Bullying in Schools

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

Published on Jan 16, 2013
Walterboro Lawyer, David Aylor discusses bullying in schools…

200 E. Washington St.
Walterboro, SC 29488
Office 843-782-4221
http://www.walterboro-lawyer.com

Aria Jewett – Lawyer John Phillips Argues for Bullying Victim Before Appellate Court

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

Published on Nov 9, 2013

Aria Jewett – Lawyer John Phillips Argues for Bullying Victim Before Appellate Court The Law Office of John M. Phillips is an award winning personal injury and wrongful death law firm. Our lawyers personally meet with and walk through the claims and trial process with clients. Our attorneys have been featured on every major network and have won many awards. We are licensed in Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Find out more by contacting us at http://www.knowthelawyer.com.

Judges to decide when bully victims can get protection, after one beating or two

Jacksonville case involves attack on 8th-grade girl

Click here for original story.

By Denise Smith Amos Wed, Nov 6, 2013 @ 7:20 pm | updated Thu, Nov 7, 2013 @ 7:19 am

Three judges in the District Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday about whether a bullying victim must wait for a second, or “repeat,” bullying instance before they or their parents can seek a protective injunction in civil court to keep the bully away from the student.

Also in question was whether a lower-court judge’s prior decision to ban a bully from attending any public school should remain reversed.

The appeal is the latest step in the legal case of Aria Jewett, a former Oceanway Middle School student who last spring was brutally beaten by a female classmate who bashed her head against a stone wall as the attack was videotaped. Initially, doctors suspected Aria suffered a skull fracture but have since downgraded her diagnosis to brain trauma.

Both girls, 8th graders at the time, now attend different high schools out of state. But their case goes on.

In May, Circuit Judge Henry Davis banned the girl accused of assaulting Aria from attending any Duval County school, not just her own. The ruling was part of a protective injunction sought by Aria’s mother, Melissia Thomas.

Later, a court overturned Davis’ ruling, saying he didn’t have authority to deny schooling to a student; that was the superintendent’s purview.

Wednesday’s appellate arguments looked at a different facet of the case. Most of the judges’ questions had to do with how many assaults must occur before a court can award a protective injunction forbidding contact between a bully and his or her victim.

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