A California jury decided last week that a school district should pay a student $1 million in damages after finding that the system should have protected the teenager from bullies when she was enrolled in middle school but did not.
Eleri Irons, who is now 18 years old, was allegedly harassed by three classmates between November 2017 and June 2018 while she was a student at El Segundo Middle School, according to a complaint filed against the El Segundo Unified School District in April 2019. According to the lawsuit, the victim was subjected to “verbal abuse, spreading unpleasant stories, and text texting cruel remarks directly” to her. The lawsuit claims that bullying occurred both at school and on related field trips. The complaint also states that the three persons created a petition titled “Let’s Kill Eleri Irons” in June of 2018. The lawsuit states that the instructors failed to inform the student’s parents about their child’s petition.
Because of “the extreme carelessness that was demonstrated by the School, Teachers, and Principal,” “Claimant sustained considerable bodily and psychological stress,” The persistent bullying that Irons endured, according to her attorney Christa Ramey, caused her client to cut herself, and she was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “The verdict was unanimous in favor of her, the jury told us. What she really wanted was for someone to listen to her and take what she said seriously, since back in eighth school, nobody would do either of those things. “It is not just about her in this situation. It will set a precedent for future students to have their voices heard in classrooms. I think the verdict supports that view. Instances like this, in which a youngster suffers mental injury, have repercussions that endure a lifetime and are severe in nature. And schools need to do more than simply pay lip service to anti-bullying rules; they need to really execute them in order to be effective.”
El Segundo Unified School District released a statement stating it accepts the findings of the complaint and would abide by the court’s order. The district’s commitment to student well-being and security was also emphasized. The statement claims that the organization would “do all in its power to prevent bullying in its schools going ahead, including working to improve itself.” “We have tried a number of different approaches in order to achieve our goals. Some of these measures include the installation of two Student Safety Assistant positions at the Center Street and Richmond Street primary schools, the adoption of a specialized security assessment for each school, and the preparation of a district-wide safety plan.” Additionally, the district stated, “A third-party conducted a thorough safety evaluation in 2018, and we’ve implemented many of the recommendations given in that report. Physical safety improvements were made to our middle and high schools, and two new safety staff members were hired. Staff employees were also trained on the behavioral threat assessment procedure and encouraged to utilize the We Tip website to anonymously report concerns about bullying. When our Gaggle warning system detects suspicious activity, it flags it as possible cyberbullying. An extra safeguard is provided by this.” A judgement form was filed on Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, and it said that the school district’s negligence was a “substantial cause” in Irons’ injuries. Another major contributor to Irons’s suffering was the district’s lack of care in training and supervising its staff, as indicated on the judgment form. According to Ramey, the amount of damages covers $700,000 worth of pain and suffering that Irons endured in the past, as well as $300,000 worth of mental distress that Irons may endure in the future.