FL Injury News: Palm Beach County School District Named in Bullying Lawsuit
12/21/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
West Palm Beach, FL—The parents of a seventh grade boy who was apparently beaten in school and targeted by bullies for more than a year have filed a lawsuit against the Palm Beach County School District. The personal injury lawsuit claims Jeaga Middle School supervisors failed to properly monitor the student’s class on the day he was attacked, according to information provided by the Palm Beach Post on Dec. 20, 2010.
In October, Joshua Poole, a 13-year-old Jeaga student, was brutally beaten while sitting in his math class. Poole claimed the attack lasted 15 minutes. Video footage of the violent episode was posted on YouTube.
Multiple Jeaga Middle School teachers, all of whom remained unidentified, alleged that incidents of bullying and in-school violence have become more and more troubling.
According to one teacher, “The students are out of control… It’s horrendous. The administration blames the teachers and say it’s lack of classroom control, but you can only control so much.”
Another teacher contended, “The decline in student behavior is epidemic in public schools,” noting that she witnesses fights break out between students on almost a daily basis.
While Jeaga Middle School Principle Kevin Gatlin described the 2010-11 school year as more “challenging” due to the excessive number of students at the school. Gatlin claimed, “I don’t think we have any more fights than they have on any other campus.”
Palm Beach County School District officials, who would not comment on pending litigation, said there were 30 reported fights at Jeaga during the 2008-09 school year. During the 2009-10 school year, on the other hand, there were 58 reported fights.
A total of 2,286 bullying incidents were reported throughout the Palm Beach County School District during the 2008-09 school year, 254 more than the previous school year.
Some teachers also alleged that incidents were becoming more violent. During an October occurrence, an unidentified student apparently began hurling desks around the room. The teacher of the class that the disruptive student was in stated, “He also tried throwing my podium.”
That teacher said it took school administrators nearly 20 minutes from the time she initially buzzed the office to respond to her classroom. “They pick and choose whose class they come to… They don’t come for me because they think I buzz (the office) too much.”
Principle Gatlin refuted those allegations, saying that although some teachers have a tendency to push the classroom call button quite frequently, school officials respond immediately.
Donald Charbonneau was teaching a math class when one of his students, Poole, was attacked. School officials said Charbonneau, 71, buzzed the office for assistance when the fight broke out between Poole and another student. The other student could potentially face criminal charges in connection with the fight.
Another unidentified teacher maintained that Charbonneau did all he could when the fight broke out. “It’s not his job to break up fights… It’s his job to teach remedial math. I’m not trained (nor) paid to intervene in fights. If I don’t, I’m negligent. If I do, I’m abusive. There is no way to do the right thing,” the teacher said.
The bullying lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, is underway.
Phone: (866) 598-1315
Url: Sandra Quinlan: West Palm Beach Injury News