Parents have filed a federal lawsuit in New Jersey after their young son was continuously beaten, and bullied on a daily basis by students and even a school volunteer, who thought he was gay. Parents and their son, all unnamed presumably to protect the child’s identity, repeatedly spoke with school administrators and even two school district superintendents, but the response they received were merely for the young student to “make new friends,” “enroll in sports,” or to move out of the school district. Ultimately, the parents were forced to sell their house and move out of the school district.
“In Newark, plaintiffs D.O. and D.O. say they noticed problems with their child, C.O., who came home each day from Pine Lake Elementary School bruised crying and depressed,” according to the Courthouse News Service:
C.O. eventually “indicated to his parents that his classmates were bullying him both at school and after school due to the perception that C.O. was ‘gay,’” according to the complaint.
“On a daily basis during this time C.O. was called ‘gay,’ ‘fag’ and ‘girl’ by his classmates. C.O. was also completely ostracized and shunned by his classmates and was forced to spend all time at school alone due to his classmates’ perception that C.O. was gay. During the aforementioned time period, C.O., was asked by numerous classmates, often many times in a single day as to whether he was ‘gay.’ The other students’ contempt for C.O. would often be displayed before large groups of his peers and he was constantly laughed at and demeaned due to his perceived sexual orientation.”
The parents claim their son also was harassed by a school volunteer and neighbor, defendant Lori Klein, the mother of B.K., whom they call the bully “ringleader.”
The parents say that after seeing the bruises on their son, and seeing other children, including B.K., yelling anti-gay insults at C.O. from their own front lawn, they asked principal Longo to do something to rectify the situation.
But despite repeated requests for Longo to help, the parents say, the bullying continued. After frequent meetings and telephone calls, they say, Longo “advised D.O. that he should consider taking C.O. to ‘another school district.’”
With the parents “desperate to stop the harassment and abuse of their son at Pine Lakes, D.O. and D.O. met with Director of Elementary Schools for the District, [defendant] Maryrose Caulfield-Sloan. At this meeting D.O. and D.O. complained that their son was being subject to relentless harassment and bullying due to his perceived sexual orientation. In response to their concerns, Dr. Caulfield-Sloan advised D.O. and D.O. to enroll C.O. in sports in an area away from the district so that his classmates would not have the opportunity to harass and abuse him. Dr. Caulfield-Sloan also advised D.O. and D.O. that C.O. should attempt to ‘make new friends.’”
But the parents say their son was assaulted again, this time on a school bus, with a metal seat belt. They say they contacted the former Superintendent of Schools for Passaic County and the Interim Superintendent, defendant James Campbell.
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