Although this school bullying case is still in its infancy, a decision by a NY Federal judge to allow a student's claims to proceed - at least in part (and for the time being) - against the plaintiff's school for failing to stem the bullying is significant.

In G.D.S. v. Northport-East Northport School District, the plaintiff, a high school student, was subjected to repeated, virulent anti-semitic taunts both in person and on Facebook, and, according to the complaint, which lays out these acts in vivid detail, the school and its administration was on actual notice of these acts, as both the student and his parents had advised the school about the issues. The school, however, failed to take remediary action.

In denying that branch of the school's motion to dismiss the plaintiff's 14th Amendment claims, however, Judge Arthur Spatt recognized that if true, the bullying allegations against the school could make out a valid case against the school, and stated as follows:

"In its recent decision in DiStiso v. Cook, 691 F.3d 226 (2d Cir. 2012), the Second Circuit found that "claims of intentional [] discrimination can be based on the 'deliberate indifference' of school boards, administrators, and teachers to invidious harassment, in the school environment, of a student by other children or parents." Id. at 240-41. See also Gant, 195 F.3d at 140 ("[I]n cases of alleged student-on-student harassment, only deliberate indifference to such harassment can be viewed as discrimination by school officials themselves.") ...

"Thus, relying on the Second Circuit's holding in DiStiso, this Court finds that the Plaintiff has alleged facts in his Complaint that, if true, state an Equal Protection claim of deliberate indifference. First, the Plaintiff's Complaint details that the Plaintiff was not only harassed based on his religion, "not only experienced student-on-student harassment based on [his religion], but that this [] harassment was 'so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive' as to have deprived the child 'of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school.'" DiStiso, 691 F.3d at 241 (quoting Gant, 195 F.d at 140 n. 5)."

Jonathan Cooper
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Non-Compete, Trade Secret and School Negligence Lawyer
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