Bullying is a major issue and has garnered closer public attention with the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999. There is no question that bullying is endemic on our school campuses and impacts all those involved. No child should be bullied and the schools have an affirmative duty to prevent and address bullying. When a victim of bullying is a child with a disability, the failure of the school to properly address the problem can be seen as a denial of a free and appropriate public education (F.A.P.E.).
Educational benefit is not measured only by grades and scores on standardized tests. (Seattle School District No. 1 v. B.S. (9th Cir 1996) 82 F3d 1493, 1500). The terms "unique educational needs" shall "be broadly construed to include the handicapped child's academic, social, health, emotional, communicative, physical and vocational needs." (Ibid.,citivngR.Rep. No. 410, 1983 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2088, 2106).
In Student v. La Canada Unified School District, the court found that, where the school district had known but had not appropriately prevented bullying and teasing directed towards a student and the student suffered emotional harm and did not benefit from his education, the District had denied Student a FAPE. (Student v. La Canada Unified School District (2006) OAH No: 2005090199). The school district was ordered, among other things, to reimburse parents for the cost of privately obtained psychological counseling and social skills training. However, these are not the only actions that can be taken. A school district can also address bullying through school-wide assemblies and staff trainings.
If your child is being bullied and you feel that this is having a negative effect on their education, please Contact us by email or call us at 714-602-1498 or 866-781-7723 (toll free) for more information.
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