Education News in Brief

Bullying Incidents Raise Questions About Role of School Officials

By The Associated Press — April 06, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

With nine students charged in the bullying of a Massachusetts girl who hanged herself in January, and $50,000 awarded to a New York teenager after his school district failed to stop taunts about his sexual orientation, questions have arisen about how accountable school officials should be for stopping bullying.

Barbara Coloroso, a nationally known anti-bullying consultant, had been contacted by South Hadley, Mass., school officials months before Phoebe Prince’s hanging death, after a young boy in nearby Springfield killed himself. Ms. Coloroso said school officials made mistakes by failing to stop the bullying and, after Ms. Prince hanged herself, by allowing at least some of the students involved to continue to attend classes and a school dance with no visible signs of discipline.

“The questions to ask are: Did they follow their own rules and did they keep Phoebe safe? Obviously not. And did they deal effectively with the bullies? Obviously not,” Ms. Coloroso said last week.

Local law-enforcement officials said Ms. Prince, who had recently emigrated from Ireland, endured months of verbal assaults and threats after she briefly dated a popular boy. She was harassed mostly in school, but also on Facebook.

School officials won’t be charged, even though law-enforcement officials said that they knew about the bullying and that Ms. Prince’s mother brought her concerns to at least two of them.

South Hadley Superintendent Gus Sayer said high school officials disciplined students they heard had insulted and harassed Ms. Prince, but didn’t know the extent of the bullying until a week before Ms. Prince hanged herself on Jan. 14.

Meanwhile, a gay teenager in upstate New York who had claimed he was relentlessly bullied by classmates while school administrators stood by and did nothing settled his lawsuit last week against the school district.

Jacob—who is identified as “J.L.” in the lawsuit—sued the Mohawk Central school district in federal court last summer with help from the New York Civil Liberties Union. Now 15, he said school officials did virtually nothing to stop bullies who picked on him.

The district paid $50,000 to Jacob’s family and agreed to reimburse them for counseling services, but didn’t admit to any wrongdoing under the settlement.

The U.S. Department of Justice had sought to intervene, citing the important issues the case raised in enforcing federal civil rights laws. Its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services is making a publication on reducing bullying in schools available at no cost in support of renewed local efforts across the country to prevent bullying.

A version of this article appeared in the April 07, 2010 edition of Education Week as Bullying Incidents Raise Questions About Role of School Officials

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: March 20, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read