Solicitor believes effect of bullying ruling will be fewer lawsuits
School officials in the Alle-Kiski Valley don't expect a recent federal appeals court ruling to change their policies to deal with bullies.
There are other laws requiring school districts in Pennsylvania to protect students from bullies, according to Thomas King, solicitor for the South Butler School District and other school districts in Butler County.
“When something happens between two kids, school districts must do everything they can to make school safe to come to,” King said. “We still have that duty and obligation.”
However, the new ruling is significant and will impact the ability of the parents of students to sue the school for incidents involving bullying, King said.
“Society today has become very litigious and people don't hesitate to sue one another,” he said.
The ruling from the higher court will dissuade parents from suing school districts for a number of cases involving bullying, King said.
“What the court said is that schools are not responsible for every social ill,” he said.
School districts could potentially still be liable in certain extreme circumstances, such as if a school official knew that something was going to happen and didn't act to stop it, King said.
“But in most of these cases, the law will protect the taxpayers of a school district and district employees when they are acting properly and performing their duty.”
A number of school districts such as Deer Lakes plan to consult with their solicitor and principles on the new ruling, according to Janet Ciramella, district superintendent.
“This ruling isn't going to change how we do business,” said John Pallone, superintendent of the New Kensington-Arnold School District, an attorney and a former state representative.
People in the legal community have known about this case for the last several years, Pallone noted. And, as far as impact to local schools, Pallone believes that the federal court has determined that the district would not be liable in the case of a bullying circumstance.
“However, for us, we hold the value of safety for our students at the highest levels,” Pallone said.
“We will continue with our discipline programs relative to bullying in school, both physical and cyber,” he said.
“I can't imagine that any school district will permit bullying because of this decision,” Pallone added. “How insane is that?”
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Alle-Kiski farmers: Crops weather heavy rain
- Springdale counters despair with ‘HOPE’
- Cost of Glade Run Lake dam to beat estimates
- New Kensington residents rally in support of 82-year-old robbery victim
- Remains of Korean War soldier from Apollo identified
- Keystone Markers give insights about towns but have fallen victim to time, theft or traffic accidents
- Union to work while ATI talks continue
- Saxonburg residents surprised by zoning proposal
- Freeport VFW initiates its ‘monumental project’