Image: David Dominici - FreeDigitalPhotos
If your child has been subjected to bullying at school on any type of continuing basis, chances are you've spoken with the school administration about the problem on more than one occasion, and probably feel like it doesn't pay to reduce your complaints to writing.
If so, you would certainly be far from alone.
But you'd also be making a terrible mistake.
Why You Must Confirm Your Bullying Complaints to the School - in Writing
The reason for this is two-fold:
First, and most importantly, New York schools are required to gather data on violent or disruptive acts that occur either on school grounds, or at school functions. Written complaints are a big part of the data that must be collected.
This data is then put into a self-diagnostic tool that computes the school's violence index, also known as an "SVI." If, based on the score, the school qualifies as Persistently Dangerous school, the Education Department must begin a review process and provide assistance to address the persistently dangerous conditions at the school.
Second, you must assume that if you intend to file a lawsuit against the school for the harm that your child suffered, the school will deny having any knowledge of the problem. It's human nature.
In that regard, one of the most challenging aspects of proving a negligent supervision case against a school is that the school had "notice," i.e., that the school either knew, or should have known, about the impending threat against the student who ultimately suffered a serious injury, yet failed to undertake reasonable measures that, if implemented, likely would have prevented, or mitigated, the damage from occurring. And, absent a prior written record of complaints regarding the specific kind of threats/bullying/assaultive behavior, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prevail on such a claim against a public school.
Consequently, it is critical that you memorialize these problems to the school in writing (and, naturally, keep a copy for your own records, including any responses from the school), so that you have a (much) easier time proving your case later on.
For additional information on this topic, or for assistance with your school negligence/bullying matter, please feel free to contact our office at 516-791-5700.