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Archive for Saturday, May 8, 2004

Tonganoxie district faces suit for teen’s bullying

May 8, 2004

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— A teenager has sued school officials in Tonganoxie, Kan., for failing to stop the bullying that led him to drop out of school and get his GED.

The suit, filed by the teen's father on behalf of his son late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges the child's parents repeatedly asked school and district officials for help stopping the harassment, but the taunts continued unabated.

The suit names as defendants the school district, superintendent, school board members, the principal of the junior high, and the principal and vice principal of the high school.

The family, whose name was not disclosed, is seeking unspecified damages as well as something less tangible.

"I think the family primarily wants to use the litigation as a means to force the school district to resolve the problem so it doesn't happen to other kids," said attorney Arthur Benson.

The school district referred calls to attorney Steven Pigg. Calls to Pigg's office Friday were not returned.

According to the suit, the district enforced its sexual harassment policy when it involved a male student harassing a female student but did nothing when classmates began calling the plaintiff "jack-off-kid" and "masturbator boy" when he was 12.

Though the plaintiff isn't gay, his classmates wrote that he "likes men" on a classroom chalkboard. The teen started crying at home and got into fights with some of the boys who taunted him. The plaintiff's classmates also teased girls who tried to defend the boy, the suit alleges.

As a result of the harassment, the suit says the boy's grades began to suffer, and his family doctor prescribed anti-depressant medication and recommended counseling. The suit said the harassment continued for more than three years, ending when the plaintiff dropped out of school last fall at the age of 16. He received his GED in February and turned 17 last month.

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