GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) - A Georgetown mom is filing a federal lawsuit against the GeorgetownIndependent School District for refusing to act to protect herchild from sexual harassment by his peers.
The mom, Kime Mitchell, wants to prevent future sexualharassment.
"I complained time and time again," Mitchell said. "Nothing evergot done."
Mitchell claims her 15-year-old son has been physically andemotionally attacked for years and GISD has ignored her requestsfor help.
"Kime Mitchell's son endured almost six years of harassment andbullying by fellow students, including relentless name-calling andphysical attacks while he attended schools in GeorgetownIndependent School District," said James Harrington, with the TexasCivil Rights Project.
Superintendent Abbe Boring said the district had been informedof the lawsuit through the media. While Boring said she would notcomment on specific litigation, she did emphasize that the districthas a number of policies that deal with the harassment ofstudents.
"The Board has in place – and enforces – numerouspolicies that prohibit such behavior by students and employees ofthe District," Boring wrote. "These policies provide opportunitiesto report such behavior and prohibit retaliation against anyonemaking or assisting in such reports. On the rare occasions whensuch reports arise, the District immediately takes all stepsnecessary to respond appropriately."
State Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin,
"I don't think my bill would have helped in this case," saidStrama. "That is if the allegations are true."
That is because the lawsuit claims the school district knewabout the bullying and chose not to act.
"My bill gave administrators the authority to act," said Strama."We need changes in state law to ensure children are safe inschool."
However, the bill never made it out of the House. It dealt withboth cyberbullying and parents' right to move children betweenschool districts to avoid bullies, or to transfer bullies toanother classroom at the request of the victim’s parents.
Mitchell is suing for injuctive, declaratory, and monetaryrelief, as well as costs and attorneys' fees.
Below is the full statement from Superintendent Abbe Boring:
The District has been asked to make a public comment concerningthe possibility that a lawsuit will be brought against GeorgetownISD. At this time, we have not been provided a copy of any lawsuit,so we cannot comment on any specifics. Should there be litigation,we will be unable to publicly discuss certain aspects of such alawsuit.
Through the media, we have been informed that an attorney forthe parent of a district student has alleged that there has beenunaddressed harassment and bullying in our schools. While federaland state law prohibit the District from commenting on theparticulars of any student, we feel it is important that thecommunity know that the Georgetown Independent School Districttakes all allegations of harassment and bullying very seriously.The Board has in place – and enforces – numerouspolicies that prohibit such behavior by students and employees ofthe District. These policies provide opportunities to report suchbehavior and prohibit retaliation against anyone making orassisting in such reports. On the rare occasions when such reportsarise, the District immediately takes all steps necessary torespond appropriately.
Understanding that student and staff safety is a priority forour district and our community, we have been, and will continue tobe, proactive in our efforts to make sure that our schools aresafe, secure, and free from harassment. As part of our commitmentto ensure safe schools and fair treatment of all students,Georgetown ISD has anti-bullying and anti-harassment programs inplace at every Georgetown Independent School District campus. Oneof these programs is the Anti-Defamation League’s No Placefor Hate® program, which was adopted at Georgetown HighSchool. The ADL describes this as “a program that enablespeople to challenge anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, and allforms of bigotry in their communities and schools. It seeks toprovide a model for responding to and preventing acts of hatred andfor developing projects that enhance an appreciation for diversityand foster harmony.” The district also has adopted the OlweusBullying program for middle schools and our Ninth Grade Center.
All schools address bullying through our counseling andcharacter education programs. We will continue to be proactive inour efforts.
As educators and parents, we understand the concern of any parent when it comes to safety. Further, we understand that we are the protectors and defenders of the rights of all children and that it is our duty to keep safe and educate each child who enters the doors of our schools. We take those duties seriously and will continue to do so.
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