Huntsville City Schools Settles Bullying Lawsuit for $250,000
On multiple occasions, three students held the eight-year-old down on the ground and punched him repeatedly, says the lawsuit.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Huntsville City Schools has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a bullying lawsuit alleging constant abuse and failure to follow written school policy.
According to court documents, an 8-year-old child sustained several injuries due to bullying incidents that occurred at Mountain Gap Elementary in 2016, reports AL.com. The student’s mother filed the lawsuit against the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education as well as several teachers and officials in 2021, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The lawsuit says the student, identified as John Doe, is nonverbal and has Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder that impacts a person’s ability to effectively socialize and communicate. The boy also lives with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Syndrome which affects motor and sensory abilities.
Doe was bullied for several months by the same three students who would hold him to the ground and punch him repeatedly, especially in the genitals, the lawsuit says. The abuse was so severe that Doe had to have surgery to remove one testicle and repair the other, which may have to be removed later in his life.
“John Doe’s physical injuries and current mental and medical conditions have been directly caused and/or exacerbated by a systematic failure of the Defendants to comply with Federal law, Alabama statutory law, and Huntsville City Schools’ policies to supervise, discipline, suspend, and/or expel students who pose a real and immediate danger to their fellow students,” the lawsuit argued.
Assaults continued even after the abuse had been reported to multiple teachers. In the complaint, the victim alleges he told a teacher about the assaults seven or eight times and that the teacher did nothing to stop it. Doe’s mother and grandfather also reportedly attempted to contact the principal and two assistant principals but were unsuccessful.
“Defendants acted with deliberate indifference to John Doe’s rights which ultimately led to physical and emotional harms and his withdrawal from school,” the lawsuit continued.
A Huntsville City Schools spokesperson told News 19 that all individuals named in the lawsuit remain employed with the district.
Court records from June 2 show the Huntsville Board of Education approved the settlement during a special called meeting. The resolution was reached following a mediation meeting in March 2022. The court finalized the settlement on June 30.
Approximately $150,000 from the settlement will be used for medical expenses and attorney fees. The remaining $100,000 will be placed into a Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account and a conservatorship estate.