The New York City school district may be the largest public school system in the US, but it could be forced to pay tuition for a 12-year-old bullying victim to go to private school. Confused? The girl's family says the public school did nothing to protect their child from relentless torture at the hands of bullies, and a judge agrees.
I'm thinking this could be the best news we've gotten since bullying became the hot topic in education. Wait, let me be clear. It's bad news for school districts, but it's flat out awesome news for parents and kids.
Finally, we have some ammunition to use against the schools! Nobody likes to take a hit in the pocketbook, do they? Next time a principal wants to slap on their blinders when a bullying report comes in, they will have to think about what it could cost them.
I just wish this win for parents didn't have to come at a child's expense.
The stuff this poor girl (she's unnamed to protect her) went through at New York's PS 6 sounds pretty typical of school bullies. She has a learning disorder, and kids would mock her when she raised her hand. Kids called her "smelly" and "ugly." The methods of torture go on and on.
Kudos to her parents for pulling their daughter and putting her in private school to protect her. But they shouldn't have had to take it that far.
And yet, that's what happens all the time. I can't tell you how many parents I've talked to over the years who have found the school district's response to their kid being bullied is to pussyfoot around punishment. The bulk of stories I've heard center around passive-aggressive moves like sending a teacher in to talk to the "whole class" about bullying instead of punishing the specific kids. Some districts take their refusal to get involved to serious extremes -- punishing the parent who reports the bullies, for example. And then there's the ever-popular "blame the victim" for being bullied in the first place.
But if the largest public school district in the United States now has to pay private school tuition for failure to address bullying, it should put all the rest of them on notice. Ignore our kids' needs, and it could cost you big time.
What do you think should be done with school districts that fails to come down on bullies?
Image via shinealight/Flickr