Concord-Carlisle Faces $2 Million Bullying Lawsuit
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CARLISLE (CBS) – A former Concord-Carlisle High School student is suing the school district, the principal and the two towns for two million dollars, contending she was continuously bullied by other students, and no one did anything about it.
“I was scared for my life,” said Belle Hankey, who filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was subjected to a pattern of bullying for nearly two years.
According to the lawsuit, Hankey’s car was vandalized on at least five occasions while parked in the school lot and once at an ice cream shop where she worked. Slurs were keyed into her car on a number of those occasions, and one of those alleged incidents included “a large amount of feces” being smeared on the exterior of the car.
Her mother took pictures of graffiti written on bathroom walls.
“One says ‘kill Belle’ and the other one says ‘Belle’s dead at 9:15,’” she explained. “It was very scary walking through the halls and not knowing who did this to you, and knowing that they could be walking behind you, or you could be having a conversation with them. It’s terrifying.”
Hankey’s attorney Timothy Burke said that all of those incidents were reported to school officials, and nothing was done to effectively address the situation, which made matters worse.
“The individuals became even more emboldened resulting in death threats carved in the walls of the girl’s locker room,” he said.
The lawsuit states that a number of other death threats directed at Hankey showed up on school bathroom walls over the next several months.
Hankey says she felt so harassed, she switched to an alternative program in her school and graduated early to get away from it. She ended up in the hospital with a stress-related blood clot. Now that she’s headed to college, she hopes the lawsuit makes a difference.
“It’s going to stay with me for the rest of my life,” she said.
This is the first lawsuit of its type under a new state law.
“It puts all the school administrators across the Commonwealth on notice that it’s not going to be tolerated, that they need to be very proactive in preventing this type of event from happening to their students,” Burke said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reports
A school official says they haven’t seen the lawsuit yet, so they can’t comment on the specifics of it.
“We take the issue of harassment very seriously in our district,” says Deputy School Superintendent John Flaherty. “The district is committed to providing a safe learning environment.”
WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager contributed to this report. Follow her on Twitter @HagerWBZ.