Bullying and harassment of elementary, middle school, and high school students can be an emotional and even dangerous problem for children and parents. Fortunately it has received increased attention in the past several years due to several high profile cases. Since 2010, all Massachusetts public school districts have been required to establish and maintain bullying prevention and intervention plans under a new state anti-bullying law, M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O. Although the law does not provide a private right of action – i.e. a statutory right to bring a lawsuit for violation of the law – it establishes certain obligations and expectations for school districts and administrators. The state Department of Education and Secondary Education oversees compliance with the anti-bullying law.
Harassment is similar to but different than bullying. Whereas bullying is characterized by repeated conduct targeting a student, harassment occurs whenever a student is targeted for mistreatment due specifically to his or her religion, ethnicity, race, gender, national origin, or other protected status. Incidents of harassment are often, but not always, bullying incidents as well.
The Law Office of Joseph L. Sulman represents students and parents in all bullying related issues, including harassment. We also represent students and parents in lawsuits for violation of a student’s civil rights arising out of a school district’s failure to adequately respond to bullying and harassment of students. This is an emerging issue for students and parents that requires competent and trusted legal representation.