Parents test school liability in bullying and child suicide

AP

Print Article

  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by Cornelia Reynolds shows her son Gabriel Taye when he was in second grade. The parents of Taye, who hanged himself from his bunk bed with a neck tie want school officials held responsible, alleging that they tolerated and covered up bullying in their federal lawsuit testing the issue of school liability in such cases. The wrongful death suit filed against Cincinnati Public Schools, its officials and staff at his elementary school cites repeated examples of bullying. However, courts have set “a high bar” for finding schools liable. (Cornelia Reynolds via AP, File)

  • 1

    FILE - In this undated photo provided by Dianne Grossman, her daughter Mallory Grossman poses for a picture. The New Jersey mother is suing her late daughter's school district because she said they didn't do enough to stop cyber bullying against her daughter that led the 12-year-old to kill herself. Courts have shown reluctance to second-guess school administrators, even as bullying between children remains a common problem. (Courtesy of Dianne Grossman via AP, File)

  • FILE - This undated file photo provided by Cornelia Reynolds shows her son Gabriel Taye when he was in second grade. The parents of Taye, who hanged himself from his bunk bed with a neck tie want school officials held responsible, alleging that they tolerated and covered up bullying in their federal lawsuit testing the issue of school liability in such cases. The wrongful death suit filed against Cincinnati Public Schools, its officials and staff at his elementary school cites repeated examples of bullying. However, courts have set “a high bar” for finding schools liable. (Cornelia Reynolds via AP, File)

  • 1

    FILE - In this undated photo provided by Dianne Grossman, her daughter Mallory Grossman poses for a picture. The New Jersey mother is suing her late daughter's school district because she said they didn't do enough to stop cyber bullying against her daughter that led the 12-year-old to kill herself. Courts have shown reluctance to second-guess school administrators, even as bullying between children remains a common problem. (Courtesy of Dianne Grossman via AP, File)

CINCINNATI (AP) — The parents of an 8-year-old Ohio boy who hanged himself from his bunk bed with a necktie want school officials held responsible, testing the issue of school liability in suicides blamed on bullying.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Gabriel Taye against Cincinnati Public Schools and school officials cites repeated examples of Gabriel and others being bullied at his elementary school. They contend school officials knew about the bullying but were "deliberately indifferent," allowing a "treacherous school environment."

Knowledge of harassment and failure to do something are among elements set out in a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling for school liability cases.

"The deliberate indifference standard set forth (by the Supreme Court) sets a high bar for plaintiffs," a 2016 opinion by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says. "It requires only that school administrators respond to known peer harassment in a manner that is not 'clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.'"

The ruling rejected an appeal by a Tennessee family that sued a school district over two years of alleged relentless bullying that forced their son to change schools.

Cincinnati school officials have said that the boy told staff he fainted the day his parents say Gabriel was knocked unconscious at a school bathroom and that he never said he was bullied or assaulted. He killed himself two days later, on Jan. 26.

Legal experts say such lawsuits seem to be coming more common amid increasing public awareness campaigns on youth bullying. A 2015 federal survey estimated that about 21 percent of U.S. students, ages 12-18, said they had been bullied.

Federal authorities say they are still learning about the links between school bullying and suicide , saying bullying increases the risk of suicidal behavior but that the majority of bullying cases don't result in suicide, suicide attempts, or thoughts of suicide.

Courts have shown reluctance to increase the demands on school officials to quell bullying. The Supreme Court has urged courts against second-guessing school administrators' disciplinary decisions, to allow them flexibility they need to deal with children who are still learning how to interact appropriately.

The federal cases often take years to resolve, unless the two sides reach a settlement. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by parents of a 14-year-old Missouri boy who killed himself in 2013 after being bullied was settled for $300,000 two years ago. Earlier this year, a Mississippi school district settled for undisclosed terms a lawsuit by parents of a seventh-grader who died of injuries from alleged bullying.

A 2015 lawsuit filed against nearby Fairfield City Schools in Ohio and officials by the parents of a girl who fatally shot herself after being bullied repeatedly, including frequent racial and sexual insults, is scheduled for federal trial in Cincinnati in early 2018.

Plaintiffs in such cases have often said that among their reasons for going to court is the hope it will bring changes that will protect other students from bullying.

"We want to open a Pandora's box, we want to push against the hornet's nest," said Bruce Nagel, attorney for the family of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who killed herself in June, allegedly after months of bullying by classmates. "We want to end this forever."

Mallory Grossman's family has said they plan to sue her school district.

___

AP News Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York and AP writer David Porter in Roseland, New Jersey, contributed to this story.

___

Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

For some of his other recent stories: https://apnews.com/search/dan%20and%20sewell

Print Article

Read More Lifestyles

'Spectacular' autumn foliage is forecast for New England

AP

August 18, 2017 at 8:20 am | BOSTON (AP) — New England's fall foliage forecast is looking so fine it's enough to make a maple leaf blush. For the first time in several years, little has conspired against a truly glorious aut...

Comments

Read More

Dig into honey-glazed Cornish hens with cabbage and apples

AP

August 18, 2017 at 7:56 am | Though the disco ball drops in January, the shofar blows in September, marking the beginning of the new year for Jewish communities across the globe. Observed as one of the holiest days of the year, ...

Comments

Read More

Maryland removes Dred Scott ruling author's statue

AP

August 18, 2017 at 6:15 am | ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — A statue of the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that upheld slavery and denied citizenship to African Americans was removed from the grounds of...

Comments

Read More

Homeless California war veteran gets place to call home

AP

August 18, 2017 at 5:00 am | MIDWAY CITY, Calif. (AP) — Vernon Poling was 44 years old when he got a home of his own. The Iraq war veteran was medically discharged from the Army in 2014, had to quit his trucking job for medi...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2017 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X