Bullying at school is a huge problem in Oklahoma, and it has been for several years. It’s also not a problem restricted to elementary schools. In 2015 the Oklahoma State Department of Education stated that 20 percent of high school students were bullied while at school. Another 14 percent claimed they were bullied online. Bullying has serious and long-term effects on children. It can lead to withdrawal from social situations, depression, poor grades, and more.
For parents, the problem is extremely frustrating. Parents just want to protect their children, but that’s difficult when they’re not there to intervene. It has many parents in Oklahoma questioning whether or not they can file a bullying lawsuit.
Bullying Defined in Oklahoma
It’s often difficult for parents and teachers alike to determine whether a child is being bullied. Sometimes two children may simply engage in an argument, or even a small disagreement. To clarify what constitutes bullying, Oklahoma enacted the Model School District Policy for Prevention of Bullying At School.
Under the policy, bullying is defined as, “Any pattern of harassment, intimidation, threatening behavior, physical acts, verbal or electronic communication directed toward a student or group of students.” Also according to the policy, the individual engaging in bullying must intend to cause physical, emotional, or educational harm.
Schools Requirements to Prevent Bullying
According to Oklahoma law, school districts are responsible for preventing bullying of any of their students. These responsibilities include:
● Reporting bullying, including to local law enforcement when necessary
● Creating a policy prohibiting bullying that includes clear consequences for any student caught bullying
● Specific procedures for notifying parents of a child that their child is being bullied at school
● Designating school officials who are responsible for enforcing anti-bullying policies
● Yearly training for administrators and school employees detailing how to deal with bullying
● Supplying educational materials for both parents and students identifying how to recognize bullying, including responding to, preventing, and reporting cases of bullying
● Referring students guilty of bullying to prevention and diversion programs
● Providing counseling for victims of bullying and their family members, as well as those who are caught bullying
● Logging the number of bullying incidents that happen at a school
The policy requires schools to implement many of these strategies. School districts are also responsible for ensuring bullying does not happen within their jurisdiction. When it does, school districts are expected to take immediate action to stop bullying. If they fail to do so, parents can hold the school districts responsible.
Holding School Districts Responsible
When the school districts do not do enough to prevent bullying or punish those who are engaging in bullying behavior, there are steps parents can take. First and foremost, they should speak with an education lawyer in Oklahoma.
Typically, the first step in a bullying case is filing a formal complaint with the school district. Oftentimes, even if the school district responds to the complaint, parents can still file a lawsuit against the school district, particularly if the bullying does not stop. Parents will need to prove that their child was bullied, that the school district did not do enough to stop it, and that their child suffered harm as a result of the behavior.
Taking on school districts in court is extremely challenging, and no one should try to do it alone. Bullying cases are highly emotional, and attorneys working for the school districts can hold up the case in court for several years. This makes it extremely difficult for any parent who just wants to get justice for their child.
Is Your Child Being Bullied? Contact an Education Lawyer in Oklahoma Who Can Help
Children have the right to attend school and get their education without fear of being bullied. When children are bullied, it often takes years for the effects to subside. Sometimes they never do. It’s for this reason that any parents wishing to file a lawsuit against a school district seek the help of an Oklahoma education lawyer.
If your child is being bullied at school, contact Banks, Gillett, Gillett, PLLC at (405) 607-4800. Your child should not endure bullying for another day, and school districts should not get away with allowing bullying. Contact us today for a free evaluation and we will begin reviewing your case right away.