Parents of Teen Suicide Victim Sue School over Bullying
By David Carroll
CHATSWORTH, GA (WRCB)-- Attorneys for the W. Winston Briggs Law Firm have filed a lawsuit on behalf of the parents of 17-year-old Tyler Long. As Channel 3 Eyewitness News School Patrol first reported last October, Long was a Murray County High School senior who took his own life. His parents say he was bullied repeatedly at school.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, names as defendants the Murray County School District and Gina Linder, principal of Murray County High.
David Long says his son suffered from a form of Autism known as Asperger's Syndrome, primarily a social anxiety disorder. The Longs' complaint alleges that Tyler was subjected to constant bullying, and "High School officials failed to take any disciplinary action" against those responsible.
According to the attorneys, "the Longs made countless efforts to meet with school officials and discuss what they perceived to be major deficiencies in supervision for Tyler's safety at the High School."
The Longs' complaint alleges violations of Tyler's due process and equal protection rights, violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and a state law claim for public nuisance. The essence of the Longs' allegations is that the Murray County High, it's employees and administrators exhibited "deliberate indifference towards the bullying Tyler was subjected to because they knew of his disability and did not take action to prevent of punish the bullying they were aware of."
A release from the attorneys states that "Jonathan Zimring, an Atlanta lawyer specializing in disability and education law, joins (the law firm) in prosecuting the case against the Murray County School District and Principal Gina Linder."
A spokesperson for the Murray County School District told the Chatsworth Times that there would be no comment until the District's attorneys had time to review the lawsuit.
In December, Superintendent Vickie Reed declined numerous requests from Eyewitness News to comment on the Long case or to provide detailed information on how Murray County Schools addresses bullying. Reed, along with all School Board members and school district employees did not attend a Town Meeting organized by Channel 3 on December 1 on the topic of bullying. The superintendent did address bullying at a parents meeting on December 8, telling reporters that bullying was no worse in Murray County than in other school systems. However, her spokesperson, Dean Donehoo told parents at the same meeting that bullying was "a serious problem" in Murray County Schools.