Parents in Lexington County, South Carolina are suing their daughter’s school district for negligence after she was diagnosed with PTSD from trauma endured due to bullying by a “gang” of students at school, according to a recently filed lawsuit.
The parents of “Jane Doe” filed the personal injury lawsuit against Lexington County School District One on Feb. 18.
According to the lawsuit, Doe was “relentlessly bullied by a group of eight-to-ten male students” at White Knoll Elementary School in West Columbia, South Carolina between August 2018 and October 2019.
The lawsuit claims the male students did the following:
- pulled Doe to the ground by her bookbag, surrounded her while laughing
- shoved Doe in the school hallways
- called Doe names, said she was ugly, stupid and “looked like a clown”
- threatened and intimidated her
- stole her school supplies and broke them
- knocked her books out of her hands.
Doe’s mother tried to get the counselor at White Knoll Elementary to help her daughter, but the counselor would only see her one time in the school year, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that one of Doe’s teachers refused to move the bullies away from Doe even after the bullying was reported. The teacher, Mr. Sarazen, said “he did not want to disrupt the seating arrangement in the classroom until winter break,” according to the lawsuit.
On multiple occasions, Doe’s parents reported the bullying to assistant principal Angelo DiBiase, according to the lawsuit. DiBiase described the group of bullies as a “gang” and said other students were reporting issues with them. He assured the parents he would address the problem.
However, the bullying continued, according to the lawsuit.
By the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Doe wanted to be homeschooled because the bullying was so terrible, according to the lawsuit.
Doe “felt no one at White Knoll Elementary would help her,” the lawsuit said.
Her parents met with administration, including Nicole Mitchell, DiBiase, and Martha Goff, who told them that Doe “slipped through the cracks,” the lawsuit said. Administrators then suggested for the first time that Doe’s parents fill out a harassment form.
The harassment form was supposed to alert administrators to separate Doe from the group of boys when she started at White Knoll Middle School the next year.
Doe was “horrified” when one of the bullies was placed in several of her middle school classes, according to the lawsuit.
The bullying continued at White Knoll Middle School “at the hands of the gang of male students,” the lawsuit said. The principal was made aware of the bullying, and Doe was sent to the school counselor.
After evaluating Doe, the counselor said she would need “extensive mental health intervention to assist her with the lingering effects of the bullying,” the lawsuit said.
Doe was starting to have suicidal thoughts in the fall of 2019 and her parents decided to take her out of White Knoll Middle School.
During extensive counseling, Doe started to open up and tell officials about the bullying.
“For example, she told her counselor that in Mr. Sarazen’s class at White Knoll Elementary she had been bullied every day and that Mr. Sarazen knew of the aggressors’ misconduct but did nothing to stop it,” the lawsuit said.
In November 2019, Doe was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other conditions “because of the neglectful and dismissive manner that Defendant District ignored her many requests for help in dealing with a gang of bullying students,” the lawsuit said.
Lexington One “was aware of the group of boys’ abusive behavior, bullying, and cruel acts” and “demonstrated reckless disregard for the well-being of a student it was charged to educate and protect, failed to intervene whatsoever and/or to take any effective remedial steps to prevent the continued abuse,” the lawsuit said.
Columbia attorneys Paul Reeves and Amy Gaffney are representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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