Parents allege Stillwater School District failed to stop boy’s bullying
STILLWATER The parents of a Stillwater High School student have sued the school district, alleging that officials didn’t do enough to stop a boy from repeatedly bullying their son.
The alleged bully hit their son so hard in the head that he passed out and suffered a concussion, memory loss, dizziness, headaches and neck pain, Jeffrey and Jamie Jesmain said in a lawsuit they filed Tuesday in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County.
The Gazette is withholding the names of the two boys.
The parents are seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Their son was attacked in a high school hallway between classes in February 2012, when he was a freshman, the lawsuit says.
As the teen walked to class, one of three boys standing in a group smacked him in the back of the head, according to the suit. No teachers or staff members saw the incident, even though the lawsuit says district policy requires teachers to stand in their doorways so they can see things happening in the hallway during the change of classes.
The alleged attack happened about a week after the Jesmains’ son returned to school following three months of being home-schooled. They pulled him out of the high school in November 2011 when the other boy threatened to hit their son in the mouth, punching his teeth “down his [expletive] throat,” the lawsuit states.
Jamie Jesmain told the assistant principal about the alleged threat in that month, and the Jesmains allege in the lawsuit that the principal knew about rumors circulating three months later that the other boy planned to hurt their son when he returned to school.
Besides the alleged assailant’s actions, “the incident occurred due to the negligence and lack of due care, including lack of proper supervision, by the Board of Education of Stillwater Central School District, the Stillwater Central School District, [and] its agents,” the lawsuit states.
The parents say district officials should have taken action on the rumors of an attack and should have followed the district’s safety plan for monitoring activity in the hallways.
The Jesmains filed a notice of claim in April 2012 indicating they planned to file a lawsuit against the school district and Board of Education.
The school district’s attorney, Kristine Lanchantin of Girvin & Ferlazzo in Albany, said Thursday the district had not been served with the lawsuit, but that she was aware of a bullying complaint filed previously with the state Department of Education.
The district’s insurance company probably will handle the lawsuit, she said.
The Jesmains and their attorney did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday afternoon.
The state “Dignity for all Students” law, which aims to provide a school environment free of bullying and harassment, went into effect in July 2012. It requires school district to appoint trained staff members to handle harassment issues.
On the school district’s website, it lists school initiatives designed to prevent and stop bullying: a monthly character education program at the elementary school, weekly classroom meetings that focus on stopping bullying in the middle school, and training during meetings on the code of conduct at the high school.
The Gay-Straight Alliance Club also is active in promoting tolerance at the high school, and the middle school has a Friends of Rachel Club, a national anti-bullying group named for 17-year-old Rachel Scott, who was the first student killed in the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.