Georgia teen's parents appeal decision on bully suit
CHATSWORTH, GA. (WRCB/AP) - Parents of Tyler Long, the Georgia teenager whose suicide was part of a documentary on bullying have decided to appeal a judge's decision to dismiss their federal lawsuit against the Murray County school district.
The attorney for David and Tina Long says a notice of appeal was filed on June 15. Their son Tyler committed suicide in October of 2009.
The following year, the Longs sued the school district and the principal of Murray County High School, claiming Tyler killed himself because he was bullied at school and school officials failed to protect him.
Tyler's story was featured in the 2011 documentary "Bully." The Longs told Channel 3 Eyewitness News they are hoping to appeal, but say their ability to fight the case in court could be hampered by a lack of funding.
Here is a statement from the Long family:
"After Judge Murphy dismissed our case we have filed an appeal. Judge Murphy found that Tyler was subject to ‘severe, nearly constant bullying' at school and that there was sufficient evidence ‘that the years of harassment ultimately caused Tyler to commit suicide.' The judge also found that the school had knowledge that Tyler was being bullied and harassed on an ongoing basis, that ‘there is little question that Tyler was the victim of severe disability harassment and that the (school) should have done more to stop the harassment and prevent future incidents.'
Nevertheless, the case was dismissed solely on the notion that the school was not ‘deliberately indifferent' to Tyler's situation. Based on the ruling, even if a school is aware that a student is being severely abused on an ongoing basis and fails to protect him, they are immune from liability. Parents all over the country need to know of this ruling. We, as parents, thought that the school was legally obligated to protect our kids, and we vow to try with everything that we have to make that happen."
The Long's attorney, W. Winston Briggs, also released a statement:
"This outrageous ruling and application of the law needs to be exposed. The decision is shocking in that the judge found that Tyler was the subject of ‘severe, nearly constant bullying.' The case came to rest on the exceedingly high standard constituting Deliberate Indifference, which needs to be reformed to protect our children. We, as a nation, need to come together to keep our children safe in school, and to hold our schools accountable to protect our kids from bullying."