By Howard Koplowitz | firstname.lastname@example.org
A Kimberly high school student would not have been beaten by her classmates in an attack posted on social media if school administrators took her claims of being bullied seriously, according to a lawsuit filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court.
The mother who filed the lawsuit on behalf of her daughter, a student at Mortimer Jordan High School, was only identified as Jane Doe, while her daughter was referred to as Mary Doe.
The lawsuit accuses Mortimer Jordan High School administrators, including Principal Craig Kanaday and Assistant Principals Hope Key and Tim Reeves, of negligence and recklessness/wantonness for having “failed in their duty to minor plaintiff to protect her from harm and comply with state law” on bullying.
The suit also names three of the girl’s classmates by their initials and accuses them of assault, invasion of privacy, negligence and recklessness/wantonness.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Walter Gonsoulin said in a statement to AL.com that the district reviewed the claims and has “no reason to believe that our employees acted unprofessionally or improperly in discharging their duties under the circumstances in question. As the matter is in litigation, and in keeping with our general practice, we will not be issuing any further comment regarding the suit.”
The girl claimed the bullying started in March, when one of her classmates, only identified by the initials B.F., threatened to assault her.
An art teacher at the school heard the threat and reported it to Kanaday’s office, the suit claims, and although Key and Reeves spoke to the girl about it, they did not ask her to submit a complaint in writing or report it in accordance with state law.
The student who allegedly made the threat was not disciplined, the lawsuit stated, and “absolutely nothing was done to protect the minor plaintiff, even in light of the known threats of physical harm.”
In April, two boys began bullying the girl, who told Key about the incidents.
But the assistant principal “inexplicably then accused minor plaintiff of being at fault for the incident and for the bullying and abuse she suffered,” the lawsuit stated, and the boys were not disciplined.
Two weeks before she was assaulted, the girl reported being bullied five or six times.
Then on May 3, three students ambushed the girl in a school hallway when one of them pummeled her as another recorded the incident on her cell phone and posted it to Snapchat, the suit contended.
The girl “briefly lost consciousness” during the attack and had to be put in a wheelchair. Meanwhile, the suit claimed, her mother was only told about the incident an hour after it occurred and after school administrators had the girl give a statement on the attack to a teacher since she wasn’t able to write it herself.
She had surgery for injuries to her arm and briefly attended a private school before returning to Mortimer Jordan, where a classmate showed her footage of the attack that circulated on social media.
The lawsuit claimed “the negligence, inaction and indifference of … Key, Kanaday, and Reeves allowed and/or encouraged the unacceptable behavior of the minor defendants to continue,” culminating in the attack.