WALPOLE (CBS) – A Walpole High School student has filed a federal lawsuit claiming school officials did nothing to keep her safe after she complained about being bullied and harassed at school.
The 15-year-old, who does not want to be identified, says it began with name calling in the hallways then escalated to vicious and threatening posts on Instagram including telling her to kill herself. “It was making her vulnerable, feel isolated, she lost a lot of weight,” said her attorney Joseph Sulman.
She says in June she was assaulted after gym class in a video that went viral on social media and prompted outrage from parents in the school district. “She was punched several times in the head and kicked which caused her to have a very serious concussion,” said Sulman who says the girl has not fully recovered.
He believes the attack could have been prevented if school officials took the teen seriously when she complained to the assistant principal about the harassment nearly three months earlier. The suit claims a school resource officer passed it all off as “girls being girls.”
“If the school had responded appropriately as they are hired to do, they would have created a safety plan to separate my client and the attacker,” Sulman said.
Superintendent of schools Lincoln Lynch tells WBZ-TV he has yet to see the lawsuit to comment on it, but he disputes a lack of action from the school in response to her complaints. He also says a safety plan is being drafted for her return in September but her attorney disagrees with that. “We want a concrete plan from the school as to how a young woman can go back to school and be safe,” said Sulman.
The case has raised the concern of parents and an anti-bullying campaign was started after the video went viral. “Hopefully the school is being proactive and addressing the concerns of parents. If not, make sure they are held accountable,” said parent Chris Head.
The suit is also seeking compensatory damages for the injuries the girl suffered in the attack.