We have struggled as parents with our son's school to receive a fair and safe environment. Our son was attacked by a bully near our home.The police came and a report was filed in October. This year our son quit the soccer team because this same bully was verbally and physically going attacking him. We had to take our son off the bus route because this bullying had continued to verbally and physically attack him on this bus. Our son was an honors student last year. His grades have dropped no less than a full letter grade. He does not feel safe. He states the school does not take him seriously when he expresses concerns about his safety. We as parents agree. The school seems to shelter the bully and does little for his safety. Our concerns or not addressed.
Schools are required to have an anti-bully policy written to ensure the safety of all children. It’s a crime (threatening behavior, assault, etc.) and you are not without options.
If you’ve created a paper trail that documents the events, documents that the school has been notified, and documents inaction–you have a quiver of arrows that will get the districts attention once the hierarchy becomes aware of the issue.
You can take some immediate steps
1) you can call the police. It’s a crime, even though they may not make an arrest.
2) you can sue the district on grounds that federal and state anti-bullying laws are being violated and not acted upon–basically the court orders the district to do its job (writ of mandamus)
3) contact the PTA, sometimes they will get involved.
4) Notify the school in WRITING, send a letter to the school regarding what is going on–certified mail, return receipt.
5) Ask for a meeting with principal & school security (if any). Document the meetings proceedings (tape if your state allows) otherwise contemporaneous notes made immediately after the meeting (when its fresh in your mind) and provide a copy to school afterward ( may come in handy later as evidence, the schools rarely refute or request correction).
Also, begin longer term actions:
1. Keep a daily journal: the who, what, when, where, and how of each incident.
2. Consider developing a plan to stop the bullying: i.e. a shadow staff member to follow your child, a meeting with the other kids' parents, daily email to school staff, etc.
3. If schools is non-responsive–in WRITING, contact your district school board superintendent.
4. Pick up your child and escort them to school if possible.
5. Depending on the schools districts responsiveness, your circumstances, and your child’s age, you may be able to transfer to another school, independent study, your supervision at school as needed.
6. Request the school intervene with the bully’s family and review school actions that can be taken against him (study hall, suspension, expulsion etc.)
You can and perhaps should engage an education attorney (sometimes the call themselves administrative law attorneys, or special education attorneys)at any time. Many of these attorneys know the school board members/superintendent, they know the lawyers who defend the district, they know the local courts and most importantly, they know how to apply pressure in the right places to get the district up off its cpllective rear-end, and working on your behalf.
READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, addressing your issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.
Estate Planning Attorney
Expanding on the previous answer, your question does not indicate what steps you've taken personally to involve the school administration in this issue. I'm sure that whatever school district you're in has an assistant Superintendent of Schools who is charged with implementing the anti-bullying law, and their local protocols. I would involve both that person, and the School's principal by making a detailed complaint about the issues. If the school is not taking this issue seriously, they may be the subject of a lawsuit, but if they're not on documented notice of the matters, they'd be in a very defendable position.
This is a link to Connecticut material on bullying, http://www.cga.ct.gov/coc/bullying.htm The new law was signed into law by the Governor in July 2011.
Sometimes the perpetrator of bullying is a child with special pupil service needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) sets limit on changes in the placement of these students to protect them. The change of placement restrictions prevent the children from being expelled and limits the school's ability to suspend these students.
Still, your child is still entitled to be safe in school. If you do not believe that your son is safe, an attorney may be able to help. Be sure to select an attorney whose practice includes education or school law. While any attorney can help, there is a complex statutory framework, particularly where the perpetrator is protected by IDEA, that must be navigated. Having an attorney familiar with those laws will help and there is no benefit for you for paying a general practice attorney to research education laws.
I wrote this to help you and others who may face issues like yours in the future. I hope you find my response to be helpful and informative. If you do, please click the thumbs up icon. If this is your question and you find my answer to be the most helpful, please click best answer. I appreciate feedback. My answer is not legal advice and does not establish a client/attorney relationship. The question may not be a complete or accurate description of the problem and there is no chance to ask a follow up question. It is impossible to give complete advice without a thorough discussion of the facts, such as we would have during an initial consultation. Further, laws are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and are subject to change. So, please, do not act on any information provided without consulting with a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction who has experience with the kind of issues that concern you.