School Bullying: Do You Need an Attorney to File a Claim Against a School District?
UPDATED: November 3, 2014
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Any lawsuit can be highly stressful for everyone involved. This is especially true for children who have already suffered from bullying. And when the case involves the emotional and physical well-being of a child, it can be highly stressful for parents too.
The bullying has probably already caused you anxiety and frustration. An attorney will provide much needed support and guide you through the process. There is much more to filing a lawsuit against a school district than many think. There are many steps to take and you'll probably need help along the way.
Filing a Claim
Before ever filing a lawsuit, you'll probably have to first file a complaint with your school district. Many laws require that you first exhaust your administrative options before filing a lawsuit. This means that you'll have to file a complaint with the school or school district. If neither the school nor the district fixes the problem, then you can sue the school and the school district.
While most states have anti-bullying laws, most do not provide for a private cause of action. This means that they do not allow individuals to sue under the law. Thus, you'll need to bring your claim under a federal or state anti-discrimination statute, or bring a common-law tort claim.
These can quickly get complicated. It's not as simple as proving that your child was bullied. You'll need to show that s/he suffered harm, often physical harm, and that a school official or the school district knew, or should have known, about the bullying. These can be high hurdles to overcome.
Alternatives to Litigation
Not all instances of bullying warrant a lawsuit, or will be successful as a lawsuit. Often there are other avenues to pursue that may be more effective. An attorney can help you evaluate the strength of your claim and explore all your options.
Lawsuits against government entities such as schools and school districts are complex. Moreover, the school will be represented by an attorney who regularly handles the same types of cases.
An attorney who specializes in cases involving school bullying can help level the playing field against the school or district, evaluate your options, and represent you at administrative hearings or in court.