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School responsibility to bullying

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Mary68

New member
Az. My child has been bullied for a few years and the school does nothing. The SRO told me a couple weeks ago he has no doubt she is being bullied, but still nothing. Last week, she was being bullied again and she cut her wrist at school and was sent to a mental health facility. (She has a history of cutting. ) My question is, can I hold the school responsible for her medical costs not covered by insurance since this has been allowed to continue? I am most likely going to be pressing charges against the person who was bullying her last week, (Trying to get in touch with the teacher to see if he witnessed what occurred) but I am just wondering if the school can be held liable for not doing anything. Thank you.
 


LdiJ

Senior Member
Az. My child has been bullied for a few years and the school does nothing. The SRO told me a couple weeks ago he has no doubt she is being bullied, but still nothing. Last week, she was being bullied again and she cut her wrist at school and was sent to a mental health facility. (She has a history of cutting. ) My question is, can I hold the school responsible for her medical costs not covered by insurance since this has been allowed to continue? I am most likely going to be pressing charges against the person who was bullying her last week, (Trying to get in touch with the teacher to see if he witnessed what occurred) but I am just wondering if the school can be held liable for not doing anything. Thank you.
You could perhaps sue the parents of the child who has been bullying your child. I have no opinion as to whether or not you would win a civil lawsuit, but I bet the parents of that child would straighten out him/her quite quickly if you did.
 

Mary68

New member
I only ask because the school claims to be a bully free school yet do nothing about bullying. Yes my daughter is in therapy for cutting which started because of the bullying. This is the only school in our area.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
I only ask because the school claims to be a bully free school yet do nothing about bullying. Yes my daughter is in therapy for cutting which started because of the bullying. This is the only school in our area.
Have you tried making an appointment with the Principal of the school about the problem? If so, and you got nowhere, then you might move up the chain of command to the Superintendent's office.
 

quincy

Senior Member
I only ask because the school claims to be a bully free school yet do nothing about bullying. Yes my daughter is in therapy for cutting which started because of the bullying. This is the only school in our area.
Is your daughter a special education student?
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
My question is, can I hold the school responsible for her medical costs not covered by insurance since this has been allowed to continue?
I disagree with the responses here that have said you could not successfully sue the school for the harm suffered by this. Rather, the answer is that you might have a good claim to make. The school does have responsibility to keep students safe and free from bullying behavior. The school knew of the history of your child being bullied and perhaps of her history of cutting as well. Knowing that, the school should take reasonable steps to try to prevent the bullying behavior. The problem, of course, is that even with reasonable action the school cannot protect her against everything. It's not realistic, for example, to expect that they have some staff member follow her around every minute of the day to intervene or deter bullying (not to mention that doing that would stifle your daughter's social activities and development). So the question here is whether there was something reasonable that school should have done to protect her that would have prevented this incident? I don't have enough facts to make that determination. There is also the problem that the harm from the cutting was self-inflicted by your daughter and not directly caused by the other student. That makes a claim more difficult but not necessarily insurmountable. Therefore I suggest you see a personal injury lawyer ASAP to see if there is any claim against the school for this. You don't want to wait as there can be limited to start the process to sue a government body in your state, assuming this is a public school. The attorney can also advise you on what claims you may have against the other student and the parents/guardians of that student.
 

quincy

Senior Member
... It's not realistic, for example, to expect that they have some staff member follow her around every minute of the day to intervene or deter bullying (not to mention that doing that would stifle your daughter's social activities and development). ...
Regarding what is quoted above, to clarify: It is not only realistic to have a student followed around by a staff member everyday, this is something that is done on a regular basis in schools for students with special needs. And there are staff members (special education teachers) assigned to some classes to assist the teacher with the needs of some students in the class.

I also want to say that the requirements placed on the schools in Arizona by the State when it comes to bullying are limited.

I think because the cutting is self-inflicted, you might have a difficult time with a lawsuit against the school. A suit against the bully or bullies might be a better possible legal action, if a legal action is to be considered at all.
 

Taxing Matters

Overtaxed Member
Regarding what is quoted above, to clarify: It is not only realistic to have a student followed around by a staff member everyday, this is something that is done on a regular basis in schools for students with special needs.
It can certainly be realistic for some students with special needs. But I submit that in most circumstances it is not realistic for a school to do that for kids without special needs who are faced with bullying. In some schools that might mean having to provide enough staff to follow around a significant percentage of the students. After all, studies show that around 20% of students nationally report having been bullied. There aren't going to be the resources to provide that kind of round the clock personal supervision for each of those kids. But what a school might reasonably be expected to do depends, as I indicated before, on a lot of factors which is why the OP needs to see an attorney.
 

CdwJava

Senior Member
Az. My child has been bullied for a few years and the school does nothing. The SRO told me a couple weeks ago he has no doubt she is being bullied, but still nothing. Last week, she was being bullied again and she cut her wrist at school and was sent to a mental health facility. (She has a history of cutting. ) My question is, can I hold the school responsible for her medical costs not covered by insurance since this has been allowed to continue? I am most likely going to be pressing charges against the person who was bullying her last week, (Trying to get in touch with the teacher to see if he witnessed what occurred) but I am just wondering if the school can be held liable for not doing anything. Thank you.
I suspect that whatever actions this bullying consisted of did not rise to the level of a criminal act - hence the SRO's inaction. And, if there is no crime, there are no charges to be sought against the perpetrator. It is quite possible that the "bully" violated school policies and state law with regard to bullying at school, but these penalties tend to be of the administrative variety (suspension, expulsion, special day class, etc.). The school's actions might also be limited depending on whether or not the perpetrator has an IEP and the nature of that IEP. In some instances, an IEP can be a get-out-of-jail-free card with regard to school penalties.

I have worked as an SRO and have been a credentialed teacher. Bullying responses can sometimes be forced to rely upon a confusing patchwork of laws, policies, and responsibilities. Far too often, the actions fall into a grey area that may not be clearly a case of bullying that violates policies. As has been mentioned, it might be worth your time to at least consult with an attorney that specializes in these matters. Like most the others, I tend to agree that the parents of the child stand the greatest likelihood of holding some civil responsibility here, but, it would take an experienced eye to review all the facts.
 

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