Re: “Brunswick schools hope to resolve bullying case out of court” (Dec. 23):

It is good that school administrators in Brunswick tried disparate responses in their effort to punish and/or prevent the bullying of a Brunswick Junior High student over a 2½-year period. Yet their position, in the end, seems to be that they were helpless.

That is extremely troubling, given the severity of the bullying and the Brunswick School Department’s legal obligation to provide a safe learning environment for this child. Trying to keep a student safe is not enough.

When bullying keeps happening – and that does not seem to be in dispute here – school officials have to step back and ask what are they doing wrong or missing, and try again until they succeed.

We support the decision of the Maine Human Rights Commission to pursue litigation in this case, to motivate school districts to apply as much strategizing to preventing bullying as they do to raising test scores (actually, schools with better school climates have better test scores).

In 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit found a Connecticut school liable for $1 million in damages for its failure to protect a student from bullying and harassment over a three-year period.

It is hard to do, but schools must not fail. Children need to be safe in school.

Vickie L. Henry

senior staff attorney and director of the Youth Initiative, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders


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