Sued for Reporting Bullying
My daughter and other students were recently bullied by an adult school employee and we, along with 6-7 other parents, reported the bullying/inappropriate behavior to school officials. Additionally, five students met with the principal to discuss the advisor’s behavior. The school principal initially denied the bullying, suggested that the bully clamp down on the students and provided the alleged bully with a contact to advise about legal counsel. We were sued based on a defamation claim. The claim was fabricated and was ultimately withdrawn. However, while the suit was active, the town's newspaper accessed the claim and reported as a front page article, including the identification of minors.
The adult employee continued to bully other students and was eventually terminated by the Region's superintendent. The superintendent identified that students were intimidated and feared retaliatory behavior. The principal, who had previously suggested that the adult employee clamp down on the students, now identified that students were being belittled, screamed at and feared retaliatory behavior. Other parents, in emails obtained through FOI, described the adult employee as needing anger management, going into outrageous temper tantrums, concerned with physical outbursts, etc.
Going through this process, I discovered how legally exposed bullying victims or those reporting bullying are. Therefore, I plan to contact legislators with the following suggestions for changes to bullying statutes
in Connecticut, and would appreciate any advice.
1.) Immunity for individuals reporting bullying, or other similar concerns, provided that the reporting is not vexatious. This lack of protection provides a disincentive to report.
2.) Bullying should not be limited to students only as exists with the current statute. Why would it be acceptable that an adult can bully a student?
3.) A requirement that school officials obtain parental permission and/or have the parent present while school officials meet with a minor student should exist. In our case, the school principal removed my daughter from class to meet with her direct reports without our permission or knowledge despite my written request that she not meet with my daughter.
4.) There should be a state statute to ensure confidentiality regarding certain student information reported in a bullying allegation.
5.) School officials should be incentivised (or penalized for failing to) abide by state bullying statutes. The current statute acts as more of a guideline than a law because there is no penalty for failing to comply.
6.) Lawsuits involving minors and sensitive issues should be sealed by law and only available if a judge determines the case should be unsealed.
If anyone has had experience with lobbying legislators for changes to bullying (or other) legislation or could offer advice, I would appreciate it.