Lawsuit filed over student bullying claims at Tomlinson
Updated 8:18 am, Sunday, December 23, 2012
The bullying, they said, twice included assaults on their daughter in December 2011 when she was an eighth-grader at the school.
Glenn Formica, the lawyer representing the family, declined to comment on the lawsuit that was filed in November at court in November, but said the girl is still enrolled at a public school in town. Town Attorney Stanton Lesser also declined comment on the suit.
Named in the suit are the town, the Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools David Title, Tomlinson Principal Connee Dawson, Dean of Students Joshua Marko, guidance counselor Vanessa Constanzo and the parents of one of the alleged bullies and their daughter.
The suit claims a classmate and other students "began a pattern of ridiculing, bullying, harassing, humiliating, intimidating and/or acting violently" toward the victim on a weekly basis in the school hallways and cafeteria, as well as on the school bus. School officials were notified by the parents in October and November that their daughter was being bullied and was afraid to come to school.
The bullying included a Dec. 9, 2011, incident when a group of girls grabbed the victim's hair and ear, and repeatedly slammed her head and face into a locker, according to the suit, and the principal, dean and guidance counselor were informed of that incident.
On Dec. 22, the suit charges, three girls threw food at the victim's back while in the cafeteria and the students were sent to the dean. Later that same day, the classmate named in the suit repeatedly slammed the victim's head against a wall and locker, and punched her in the nose.
The victim's parents were at the school that day for a meeting, the suit states, and "heard the commotion and soon thereafter witnessed their daughter lying and shaking in her own blood."
A 13-year-old girl was charged with assault in connection with that incident, according to police records. There are no police reports on the earlier incidents.
As a result, the victim suffered a concussion, cuts and bruises, headaches, a broken nose, a sprained neck, acute stress disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, suicidal tendencies, post-traumatic stress disorder, and continues to incur expenses for medical care, therapy, medication and specialized schooling.
Those named in the suit are responsible for the girl's injuries because, according to the document, they failed to:
- Adequately supervise or monitor students
- Investigate reports of bullying, failed to provide a safe school environment
- Prevent or intervene in instances of bullying, and require teachers and other staff who witnessed or received student reports of bullying to notify school administrators in writing as required by law
- Create a timely prevention and intervention strategy
- Notify parents of students who committed acts of bullying
- Notify parents of victims of bullying
- Require a list of the number of verified acts of bullying
- Direct the development of case-by-case interventions for addressing repeated bullying against a single individual
The suit seeks more than $15,000 in damages.
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