Mom's Lawsuit Claims Daughter Was Bullied at Frick Middle School

By Bowling, Brian | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 18, 2009 | Go to article overview

Mom's Lawsuit Claims Daughter Was Bullied at Frick Middle School


Bowling, Brian, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Unchecked harassment by boys at Frick Middle School drove a straight-A student out of class and into a hospital, the student's mother claims in a federal lawsuit against Pittsburgh Public Schools.

The boys harassed the girl on a daily basis about her appearance and weight, and school officials knew about it for most of the two years, but did nothing to stop the abuse or even notify the mother it was happening, the lawsuit states.

When the mother found out and tried to home-school her daughter, the principal retaliated by filing a baseless disorderly conduct charge that was dismissed in court, the lawsuit states.

Pittsburgh Public Schools attorney Ira Weiss declined to comment on the lawsuit other than to say that the district will defend its position vigorously.

Neither the mother nor her daughter are named in the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Downtown. It seeks damages from the district to cover her treatment for an eating disorder and private schooling costs.

Edward Olds, the mother's attorney, said the lawsuit claims a violation of Title IX of the federal education law, which provides equal educational opportunities for boys and girls. While the statute is frequently cited in cases involving schools' disparate treatment of male and female athletes, the U.S. Supreme Court decided about six years ago that peer-on-peer sexual harassment violates that section of the law, he said.

"It, in essence, prohibits sexual harassment in the school," he said.

While these kind of gender-based bullying cases are unusual in federal court, they're becoming more common, he said. …

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