I’ve posted about such incidents before, but another one has hit the national news.
The facts as alleged seem sadly typical: A student is repeatedly bullied over a long period of time by a group of students; the bullying is reported to the School District, which takes some action, but their action does not curtail the ongoing bullying; the targeted child kills herself.
Again I reiterate to all who may read my blogs the importance of both reporting incidents of bullying to school personnel and keeping a record of such reports, and following up with school personnel to ensure action is taken and that the action is effective. Far too often we raise these issues to the schools as isolated events, rather than presenting to them the larger picture of ongoing bullying over an extended time period.
Here is a link to the horrible story as reported in the Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/05/23/after-years-of-alleged-bullying-an-ohio-teen-killed-herself-is-her-school-district-responsible/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_most-draw6
As often is the case, the School District in this instance is first responding to the Complaint by arguing several procedural reasons as to why they should not be held liable. Hopefully, this case will advance past those hurdles and be decided on the actual merits.
One especially egregious alleged fact is that after the suicide, the School District actually sent out notices to all the parents in the District claiming that the suicide was not related to any bullying. Guilty conscience?
Remember that children with Special Needs are especially prone to being targeted at school for malicious behavior due to their lower social status in the school community as compared to other students. Because of the greater vulnerability of students with disabilities, the impact can also be significantly more harmful.