NYC settles suit alleging weak response to school bullying
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City has settled a federal lawsuit filed in 2016 by public school parents who charged that school violence and bullying were not being adequately addressed.
The settlement announced Wednesday will require the city Department of Education to report bullying incidents into an electronic system within one day. Parents will also be able to submit school bullying complaints electronically.
“This settlement finally brings meaningful reform to a troubled and broken system that placed every New York City school student in dire and dangerous circumstances,” said Jim Walden, the attorney for the plaintiffs, who included 24 public school students and their families. “I am deeply proud of these parents who had the courage to say ‘enough is enough’ as they stood up not only for their own children but for all children.”
The charter school advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools, a frequent critic of the education policies advanced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, was a plaintiff when the lawsuit was filed in Brooklyn federal court in April 2016. The organization disbanded last month after firing its founder and CEO, Jeremiah Kittredge, following an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behavior.
The lawsuit alleged that violence in schools was underreported and that incidents of bullying were often not taken seriously by school administrators.
It alleged that the Department of Education consistently refused to grant school transfer requests to students who were being bullied. Under the terms of the settlement, the department will be required to grant transfer requests to victims of bullying by other students.
A spokesman for the city law department said the settlement expands on anti-violence initiatives already undertaken by city education officials.
“The DOE has initiated numerous reforms to strengthen its anti-bullying programs to ensure safe and inclusive learning environments in every school building,” said the spokesman, Nicholas Paolucci.