People call Greg Smith when they are fed up with school officials ignoring bullying. They want to know why the school hasn’t done enough. They want to know if they can take action. They need answers that only an experienced lawyer can provide.
What is bullying?
Connecticut’s law defines bullying as the second time a child is hurt. The second bully does not have to be the same person as the first. The act can take place off school grounds. It can be a word, a gesture, or a post. It need not cause physical harm. It is ‘bullying’ if the bully causes the victim to fear for their safety or changes their feelings about school.
A Student’s Suicide: for a look at a recent decision in favor of the family, follow this link.
What must victims do?
The school will do nothing until the child tells a teacher or an official, or the parents complain in writing.
What must school officials do with a complaint?
They must look into the facts to see if the act really was committed. If so, they must make plans to keep any kind of bullying from happening to this victim again.
What must they do for the victim?
They must invite in the family and tell them of their plans to keep their child safe. They must act promptly and effectively to prevent a hostile environment. If the bully has harassed the victim for their sex or race, federal civil rights laws may apply.
What must officials do to the bully?
They must tell the bully and his parents how they plan to stop him from doing it again. They may also discipline him.
Must officials tell the victim about their plans for the bully?
No. Federal law (FERPA) keeps school officials from making their investigation public — even to victims.
Must officials tell the victim what they did to the bully?
No. They must only say how they plan to keep the victim safe in the future.
When can a victim’s family sue the board of education for bullying?
If officials knew a bully was about to strike and did nothing, parents could hold the board liable for its agents’ negligence.
Are there any other times when families can sue?
If the bullying was sexual, and the school ignored it, the victim may bring an action under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
Greg Smith will know what you can do to help your student. By taking action you may also stop bullies from hurting another family’s child.