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Mom Sues NY School for Failing to Protect Daughter from Bully

Parents of children with disabilities are fighters and advocates from the time they are born.Our Great Neck education lawyers know those battles have only just begun when the child reaches school age.
Many times, you are up against a district that may be providing substandard services and lessons, or is failing to provide the appropriate accommodations. Other times, you may learn the district isn’t doing enough to protect your child from a number of potential harms.

The latter scenario is what one Brooklyn mother is up against, after her 13-year-old disabled daughter, who was mercilessly teased and bullied, was one day pushed by a peer from a moving bus and into oncoming traffic. It’s a miracle she wasn’t killed. The girl did however suffer a broken collarbone and had to be rushed to the hospital. In addition to being severely injured, the girl was also incredibly frightened and embarrassed by the ordeal, which the mother contends would not have happened had the school district taken action to curb the bullying before it got so out-of-control.

The mother has filed a notice of intent to sue the New York Department of Education in connection with the incident. The bus was reportedly staffed with one aide and a driver, neither of whom are facing any disciplinary action by the district.

The district has said the student believed to have pushed the girl has been forbidden from taking the bus and “will receive appropriate discipline.”

Yet the mother says she had informed school officials for months that a group of children at the school was harassing her daughter, and she was deeply concerned for her safety. She credits God with saving her daughter, but says the district needs to ensure such an incident never happens again.

The ordeal that day began when one of the girl’s classmates spit at her. Another threw her own school books at her.

The aide then instructed the bullied girl to move to the back of the bus so that she could get away. However, once there, one of the boys in the group – who reportedly had a history of violence both with other students and with this girl – walked back, opened the back door of the bus and pushed her out. He fell out along with her.

Said the girl later, “I thought I was going to die.”

Bullying is not a new situation in schools. In fact, it’s one they have been dealing with for some time. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education released a statement saying that schools have an obligation to intervene to address harassment, online or on campus, when administrators know about it or reasonably should have known.

The department further defines bullying as unwanted and aggressive behavior among school children that involves a perceived or real imbalance of power. It could be verbal (teasing, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, threatening, name-calling), social (purposeful exclusion, spreading rumors, public embarrassment) or physical (hitting, pinching, kicking, spitting, pushing, tripping, damaging property or making rude gestures).

If your child has been injured by a bully and school officials refuse to address the situation, we can help.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides education litigation in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or send us an e-mail.

Additional Resources:
Mother of 13-year-old girl shoved out of a moving bus by a bully will sue the city, March 12, 2013, By Corinne Lestch, The New York Daily News
More Blog Entries:
New York Education Law May Be Guideline For Law School Suit, April 2, 2013, Great Neck Education Lawyer Blog