The first day of school is supposed to be an exciting time as you get to see old friends, meet new people and get ready for the potential of a new school year. However, when one Brooklawn student arrived for her first day of fourth grade, she was targeted by bullies, and the school seemingly did nothing to intervene. Was it the school’s responsibility to stop this bullying? This little girl went to court to find out.
Is Stopping Bullying a School’s Responsibility?
As soon as she started fourth grade at Alice Costello Elementary School, a young girl found herself the target of bullies. Three of her classmates were accused of not only taunting the girl with sexually harassing slurs, they also allegedly assaulted her—in one instance it was claimed that the classmates cornered the girl, slapping and punching her in the chest and groin.
Her parents confronted school officials to intervene, yet they claim nothing was done. The girl’s ordeals would follow her for two years of school. She developed anxiety and was prescribed anti-anxiety medicine which the school nurse was to give to her whenever she began to experience symptoms. The nurse allegedly refused to give the girl her medication, claiming she didn’t want the girl to become a “pill popper.” After being denied her medication, the girl later attempted to harm herself and was admitted into a crisis center.
These alleged events led the girl’s family to file a lawsuit against the Brooklawn School District, which paid a settlement of $100,000. The district has admitted to no wrongdoing by settling the case, but it has become a part of a long list of New Jersey school districts accused of not dealing with bullies. In another case at Copeland Middle School, a 12-year-old girl was bullied until she committed suicide. The school district in that case is now in facing a lawsuit from the 12-year-old’s parents.
New Jersey has a strong set of anti-bullying policies that require schools to take action when a student is potentially being bullied. When these policies are ignored, it can risk the safety and lives of our children, and that is unacceptable. If you think your child is being bullied, contact school officials immediately, but if nothing is being done, don’t hesitate to call an attorney. When a child’s safety is at risk, there are options for parents, and an experienced attorney can inform you of those options.