Mother ends bid for restraining order
Posted: Friday, May 4, 2012 8:00 pm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky woman halted her request for a restraining order against a 10-year-old boy accused of bullying her daughter after reaching agreement Wednesday with the school system to transfer the girl to another school.
Joy Furman claims the boy tormented her daughter during two school years, kicking the 9-year-old girl in the chest and chasing her with scissors. The children are fourth-grade classmates at Stephen Foster Traditional Academy in Louisville.
Furman sought a restraining order to keep the boy at least 500 feet away from her daughter.
Hours before a hearing on the request in Jefferson County Circuit Court, Furman’s attorney reached agreement with Jefferson County Public Schools to settle that portion of Furman’s lawsuit. The suit names the boy’s parents or guardians, two teachers and the school principal.
“I am relieved that my daughter is now finally safe,” Furman said in a statement released by her attorney. “And I hope that no other child has to go through what my 9-year-old child had to endure over this past year.”
The remainder of the suit will go forward, but a trial date hasn’t been set, said Furman’s attorney, Ted Gordon.
Under the agreement, the girl will be switched to another school for the rest of this school year and next school year.
“She’s the victim and she had to change location,” Gordon said in a telephone interview. “But it was safer for her and better for her.”
The boy, he said, “got a free pass.”
He said the girl’s family decided to end its pursuit of the restraining order if a suitable replacement school could be found.
The school system said in a statement that the girl’s family submitted “a valid transfer request” for the first time on Tuesday.
“If they had gone through the proper channels to request that, we would have taken a look at it much sooner, but they only did that yesterday,” said attorney Tyson Gorman, who is representing the school system in the matter.
Furman claims the bullying began last year when the children were third graders and continued as fourth-grade classmates.
The boy weighs about twice as much as the girl, Gordon said.
The suit claims the boy pushed and shoved the girl and cornered her in class as third graders.
At the time, Furman met with the school counselor and her daughter was moved to another class. There was also an understanding that the two children would not have any further contact, the suit said.
But in late May last year, the boy confronted the girl on the playground and kicked her in the chest, the suit said. The girl was knocked to the ground and suffered an injured sternum, it said.
The two children were placed in the same fourth-grade class, and the bullying continued, including pushing and shoving in the lunch line, Gordon has said. At one point, the boy chased the girl with scissors in the classroom, he said.
Gorman said the playground incident occurred during a kickball game that led to a scuffle in which a number of students, including the girl, acted inappropriately.
Disciplinary action was taken, and the school system thought the issue “should be closed.”
As for the other allegations, an investigation has found “no significant wrongdoing,” Gorman said.
The suit seeks unspecified punitive damages as well as damages for medical expenses, mental anguish and pain and suffering.
The school system said the defendants will “vigorously contest” the allegations as the case continues.
Gordon said that bullying is “systemic” in the Jefferson County schools, state’s largest public school system. He said he’s pursuing action in several other alleged bullying cases but hasn’t yet filed lawsuits.
Gorman disputed that, saying the school system works to avoid or stop bullying and ensure students are “safe and comfortable.”
Published in The Messenger 5.04.12