Leesa M. Poag, Attorney, Woodruff Family Law Group
After the death of their eight-year-old son earlier this year, two parents in Ohio have filed a lawsuit against Cincinnati Public Schools. The child hanged himself with a necktie from his bunk bed, an act that his parents claim was a result of bullying he suffered at his elementary school. The parents claim that the child was repeatedly bullied at his school, as were several of his fellow classmates.
This is, unfortunately, not the first such lawsuit to arise over the issue of school bullying. As discussions surrounding bullying are becoming more prominent in our society today, so are parents seeking to recover damages as a result. In 1999, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of school liability in bullying cases. In the case of Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court held that damages were recoverable from a school board in bullying cases, but only if the Plaintiff proves that the school was deliberately indifferent to the bullying. The Court held that a Plaintiff must show that the harassment was so severe and pervasive that it effectively barred the child from access to educational opportunities. This standard creates an extremely high bar for a plaintiff to meet in a bullying case.