School Did Nothing to Stop Years of Bullying Against Girl, Suit Claims
WRIGHTSTOWN — A Burlington County girl is suing her school district, claiming administrators did nothing to stop years of bullying.
The girl, identified in the suit posted by John Paff's Random Notes on NJ Government website as "M.S.," claimed she was called names like "whitey" and "lesbian," kicked in the stomach, and hit in the face with a water bottle. The bullying even spread to her mother, according to the suit.
Her mother went to principal Scott Larkin and the then-superintendent, Dr. Cassandra Brown, several times, according to the suit filed in Burlington County Superior Court. The suit alleges Larkin and Brown took no action that stopped the behavior.
The incidents started in 2013, when the girl began third grade at New Hanover Township School, and continued until last June when her mother, identified as "J.H." in the suit, pulled her and her sister out of school and began homeschooling them, according to the suit.
The suit said no action was taken despite emails sent to Larkin and Brown about assaults, threats to beat the plaintiff, taunts about her sexual orientation, and the matter being brought up at a Board of Education meeting.
The behavior came to a head in May 2017 when "M.S." was chased down the street by another girl and her brother, according to the suit. The suit said the girl's mother came to their home and called "J.H." a "white bitch" and wrote a social media post claiming "J.H." was afraid of her.
A month later, according to the suit, a teacher at the school told "M.S."'s mother that "if your daughter would just keep her mouth shut, we could avoid all these problems." At that point, "J.H." told Larkin she was taking her daughters out of the school district, and began homeschooling.
Larkin told "J.H." that she should "shut up and let us deal with the problem."
The suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages, interest, cost of suit and attorneys’ fees for the plaintiff. It also would like those who participated in the incidents to be "significantly and severely punished" as an example to others, and the school to hold training for staff and assemblies with students to prevent future bullying.
The school, located near the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, has an enrollment of around 200. Most of the students are Hispanic or white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.