In a scathing indictment of New Jersey’s Emerson School District, the state’s attorney general Paula Dow says administrators there for six years ignored the obvious anti-gay bullying of student “‘J.C.” And she wants blood.
From middle through high school, J.C. was physically assaulted, had his life threatened (with kids telling him they’d slit his throat and shoot him at school), and regularly taunted with gay slurs. Drawings of J.C. performing gay sex acts were circulated among students. A faux Facebook profile was set up that identified J.C. as “female” and listed his sexual orientation as “unknown.” J.C.’s parents complained to the school at least 17 times, but not once were the parents of the bullies ever contacted by the school, the complaint says, nor were the students punished in any meaningful way.
Records indicate J.C. either left the school or graduated in 2007.
In a Finding of Probable Cause, Dow says administrators ignored the problems, and their negligence is inexcusable. If the school board is found guilty, it faces a $10,000 fine, mandatory policy changes and staff training, and possibly compensatory damages for J.C.. The school district’s attorney “categorically denies any bullying took place and that all complaints were handled appropriately.” Which is weird, because the school district said during the A.G.’s initial investigation that it was aware of the bullying but took steps to counter it. (Evidently, Dow’s office disagreed.)
The details are horrifying, relays NBC New York:
Among school officials singled out was former football coach and now Dean of Students Robert Carcich, who told investigators that he had handled many such complains, but that “he spokes to witnesses who failed to corroborate J.C.’s allegations. However, Carcich was unable to provide documentation to support his account.”
In detailing the gun threat, the AG’s office noted that Emerson police went to M.F.’s home to investigate “and a subsequent search of M.F.’s home resulted in the seizure of guns and knives belonging to both M.F. and his father.” M.F. was placed in a psychiatric facility for evaluation, but later released and allowed to return to school. J.C.’s father was told M.F. would not be allowed near his son, but then the two were scheduled to be in three classes during that school year. Superintendent Vincent Taffaro allegedly advised J.C.’s father he could seek a restraining order if he felt it was necessary.
Eventually, J.C. turned to home schooling after suffering from stress, went back to school after being assigned an aide to help avoid bullying situations, and according to the Finding, was still subjected to another incident by three other students within a month. That was it, and he finished the year with home schooling.
From here the case enters a process called Conciliation, and it could wind up in a non-jury law trial. But in the immediate? How about Emerson administrators — proudly touting being named a “High Performing District” — wise up to the fact that they are not immune to anti-gay student bullying, and they shouldn’t have to wait to get slapped with another action — based on the state’s soon arriving anti-bullying law — to get their shit together.
Otherwise, THESE KIDS KILL THEMSELVES. Jesus.