Conn. Bullying Lawsuit Settled

August 23, 2005

The town of Greenwich, Conn. has settled a lawsuit filed in December by parents who said the Greenwich Public Schools did nothing to stop their daughter from being bullied.

The lawsuit, one of the first of its kind in the state, cites a 2002 law that requires public schools to establish plans to address bullying.

Patrice Anibal said that she and her husband filed the lawsuit as a last resort after her daughter endured four years of almost-daily taunting, teasing and bullying at her elementary school.

“Ultimately we just weren’t getting anywhere and our daughter was just being so traumatized by this,” Anibal said.

A joint statement by the Anibals and the Greenwich schools included an apology from the district and a promise to review and revise bullying procedures.

Patrice Anibal said a confidentiality agreement prevents her from providing specifics about the district’s handling of her family’s complaints. But she said the apology and policy changes are key.

“We can’t get back the past four years for our daughter, but no one else should have to go through this,” she said. ‘”The fact that they apologized is important because they needed to acknowledge that they didn’t handle this properly.”

Anibal said the settlement did not include any monetary damages.

“What good would any money do?” she said. “We can’t get the time back. We wanted to the district to fix the problem. I think this drew their attention to it and hopefully it will stop for other kids.”

Deputy Superintendent Mary Capwell said a revised bullying policy will be mailed to parents before the start of school.

“We’ve recently added an appeal procedure, so that if a parent is dissatisfied with what happened at the building level, he or she can appeal,” she said.

The lawsuit accused school officials of several counts of negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Patrice Anibal said her daughter is doing well now that school officials have addressed the problem and provided a supportive environment.

“The good thing is she’s doing really well and she’s excited about school and she’s really proud of how this is going to change the school for the better,” Anibal said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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