Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Outrageous ruling in teen suicide case

Lynne Soraya shared news via Twitter that a judge ruled for the school district in the case of a bullied teen who committed suicide. The parents of 17-year-old Tyler Long were profiled in “Bully,” a documentary about bullying.

Long had Asperger’s syndrome and the ABA Journal report stated,  his fixation upon following the rules made him unpopular with classmates.

In his ruling U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy found that Long was:
 “subject to severe and pervasive harassment as a result of ‘severe, nearly constant bullying.’ But he said the school district did not have a constitutional duty to protect the youth from harm by private individuals. And the school was not liable for disability harassment, he said, because plaintiffs had been unable to ‘meet the high bar of deliberate indifference.’”
This ruling is outrageous because, in my opinion, school districts should have a constitutional duty to protect all students from harm.

Mine is admittedly an emotional response; I was bullied and ostracized in school and was diagnosed in adulthood with an autism spectrum disorder. I believe my undiagnosed “invisible” disability made me vulnerable to peer abuse.

Murphy wrote, as quoted in the ABA Journal report:
 “This is an emotionally charged case with very difficult facts. There is little question that Tyler was the victim of severe disability harassment, and that defendants should have done more to stop the harassment and prevent future incidents.”
But according to Murphy, the plaintiffs cannot establish a claim under disability law absent a showing a deliberate indifference, “a difficult, exacting standard”:
“In this case, he said, the school addressed every incident of harassment, and worked to prevent future bullying.
“‘At best, plaintiffs’ evidence demonstrates that defendants’ harassment prevention techniques were not always effective,’ he wrote.”
Read the complete report at http://lynnesoraya.visibli.com/share/KWMJpT.

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