A sixth teen in Minnesota has filed a lawsuit against a school district there, alleging her school's staff members didn't do enough to protect her from bullying. A Missouri school district faces a lawsuit alleging the school didn't protect a student from being raped.
Those headlines are not what school districts in New York or anywhere want to see, mainly because of a student being injured, but also because of the potential financial impact a large settlement can have on the remaining students who are attempting to learn and prosper there. Education Law in New York has many facets and can include lawsuits filed against school districts, teacher-school district conflicts and even class-size and funding issues with the state.
In the Minnesota case, a lesbian teenage girl claims she was punched and called slurs after attending a middle school there and alerted authorities, who did nothing to protect her. It is an add-on lawsuit filed by five other students who are being flanked by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
The lawsuit claims the steps officials took after hearing about the bullying were "grossly inadequate," with some students being told to stay out of the way and lay low, Time reports. The plaintiffs want to get rid of the school district's sexual orientation policy, which instructs staff members to be neutral on sexual orientation matters.
In the Missouri case, a middle school girl alleges school officials didn't protect her from a male classmate, who allegedly harassed her, sexually assaulted and raped her. The special education student alleges she told officials about the events during the 2008-2009 school year, but they allegedly said they didn't believe her, according to the News-Leader.
The lawsuit also alleges school officials forced the girl without her parents' permission, to write a letter of apology to the boy and hand-deliver it. She was expelled and disciplined for filing a false report. When she returned to school, the harassment and assaults continued, and because the school didn't believe her, she didn't report the abuse. But her mother took her to get an exam, which showed she had been sexually assaulted and that the boy's DNA matched samples taken. The boy pleaded guilty to the charges, the lawsuit states.
Both of these situations are tragic because students were injured. And New York school districts aren't immune to these types of allegations and situations. It's possible that school officials didn't do enough to protect these students and, likewise, it's possible the school staff did their jobs, but bad things still happened.
As stated above, education law can pertain to on-campus attacks and the school's response, the accommodations given to special-needs students and even the battles between school districts and the state on matters of funding, teacher pensions in New York and other matters. Sound legal representation is needed in all cases to ensure a client's rights are protected.
The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides education law representation in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or contact us through the website.
More Blog Entries:
Gay Teens Sue Minnesota School District over Bullying Policy, by Kayla Webley, Time
Lawsuit filed against Republic School District over rape claim, by Cory de Vera, News-Leader