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Education Law

Bullied at School for Years, Billy Wolfe Brings Suit, With His Parents’ Help

Posted Mar 24, 2008 6:58 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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How is it that a student can be bullied at school, for years, without officials taking effective action to end the situation? A lengthy article in today's New York Times attempts to answer that question, by telling the story of Billy Wolfe, from his own and his parents' viewpoint.

Now 16 and a high school sophomore in Arkansas, Wolfe, who has a learning disability, allegedly can't go about his own business on an ordinary school day without fearing—often correctly—that he will be harassed, threatened or beaten up.

"Bullying is everywhere, including here in Fayetteville, a city of 60,000 with one of the country’s better school systems," the New York Times reports. Yet, although Billy Wolfe's parents have complained to school officials repeatedly, and several incidents have been documented on film or the Internet, the situation continues.

School officials—who have responded to at least some of their complaints—say they can't explain everything they have done to try to protect Billy Wolfe because of privacy laws. However, his mother says her son has been punished, on occasion, when not he but another student was at fault—and some school records provide support for her contention that he is being blamed in incidents when he is not at fault, the newspaper writes.

Having seemingly exhausted other options, except for potentially moving their son to another school, the Wolfe family sued one of the alleged bullies and several "John Doe" defendants this month and are considering adding the Fayetteville School District to the list of defendants.

"Their lawyer, D. Westbrook Doss Jr., said there was neither glee nor much monetary reward in suing teenagers," the Times reports, "but a point had to be made: schoolchildren deserve to feel safe."

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