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Lannom Williams Law Group - Providing criminal defense and civil trial practice for Wilson County, Tennessee

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Does School Bullying Equal School Liability?

     As a parent, I cannot fathom the unbearable pain experienced from losing a child. On December 23, 2014, a Bardstown Mother experienced this pain after watching her twelve year old daughter cling to life in an intensive care room at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. 

    

     Such unbearable situations only cause an endless list of questions, the most often asked is a simple why”?  In the unfortunate death of twelve year old Reagan Carter, persistent instances of school bullying, occurring on campus and at school sponsored events and online, contributed to the horrific loss.  This is certainly not the first time such a disturbing story has caused local and national headlines. School Districts, including the Bardstown Board of Education, which governs the Middle School Reagan Carter attended, adopt policies purportedly to protect students from bullying. Bardstown had numerous policies supposedly to protect students like Reagan Carter, including “Bullying and Hazing”; “Assault and Threats of Violence”; “Harassment/Discrimination” and actions that “Disrupt the Educational Process”. Bardstown even used the words “[h]azing, bullying, menacing, or abuse of students or staff members will not be tolerated.”  Policies and rules, including the state and federal laws that require the implementation thereof to provide a safe environment for children, are not effective if not followed. It bears an important question in the death of Reagan Carter, “why was Reagan not protected by the very school that promised to do so?”

     Reportedly, Reagan's mother had met with school officials on three different occasions since August, 2014 regarding the tireless acts of bullying, ridicule, humiliation, and intimidation against Reagan by a particular group of students. Reagan’s mother had even addressed the pervasive bullying just five days before Reagan began her hospitalization at Kosair after a student came to Reagan’s classroom and threatened bodily injury to her. As a result of the inescapable bullying perpetrated upon Reagan, unchecked by the school, Reagan’s mother intended to change Reagan’s school at the winter break.
   
     Despite her Mother’s attempts to demand a safe and abuse free school environment for Reagan, the bullying continued and at a school sponsored event on December 18, 2014, Reagan was scared and bullied to tears. Later that night, Reagan was rushed to Kosair in an effort to save her life. 

     State and Federal laws set requirements to mandate the adoption of policies and procedures “to ensure safe schools” and include adopting a “discipline code” and the development of a “district wide safety plan”. Failure to comply with state and federal laws may result in civil liability. If your child is bullied and subject to persistent ridicule emanating from school, it is important to document these incidents with the school and require compliance with policies, procedures, state and federal law, which may vary state to state. 

    

     The Law Office of Lannom and Williams extends deepest sympathy to the family of Reagan Carter. 

 

 

Melanie Bean

 





LANNOM & WILLIAMS
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