7th Circuit affirms judgment for school in bullying case

August 25, 2015

A federal lawsuit brought against northwestern Indiana school corporations over a child’s alleged bullying was properly decided in favor of the schools on summary judgment, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The decision affirmed summary judgment granted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in D.S. b/n/f George M. Stahl and Debbie Lynn Stahl v. East Porter County School Corporation, et al., 13-3549.

D.S. claimed to have been bullied during middle school in East Porter and that school officials and teachers failed to address multiple instances. Her parents were barred from school property after incidents at the school in which the mother accused students of bullying their daughter and other girls accused the child’s father of attacking them.

The suit named East Porter and Porter Township School Corp., alleging equal protection and due process violations, among other things. After the parents were told enrollment was closed when they sought to transfer D.S. to a school in Porter Township, they named the school district when they learned that a neighbor asked about enrolling his child and was told enrollment was open.

“The district court held that D.S. did not offer sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact under the state-created danger standard. We agree,” Judge William J. Bauer wrote for the panel. “D.S. has not shown that her teachers and coaches instigated, created or increased the bullying that she experienced at school.” Likewise, D.S. testified she didn’t know whether school staff took any steps to discipline bullies other than times they were seen talking to the students.

With regard to the claim naming Porter Township schools, D.S. failed to identify any similarly situated people who were treated differently, Bauer wrote.



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