Lawsuit alleges Missouri district allowed bullying of girl

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The mother of a Missouri girl says in a lawsuit she filed that the St. Joseph public school district did not help her daughter when classmates bullied her and left her suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Frances Keitz contends the bullying involved physical and verbal abuse, The Kansas City Star reported. She alleges that students threatened to kill her daughter or urged her to kill herself. She says it happened during the 2015-2016 school year while the girl was a student at Skaith Elementary School.

The girl, who is now 13, was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety in January 2016 and had to be hospitalized, according to the lawsuit. Keitz says in the lawsuit she frequently asked district administrators to help her daughter, but that they did nothing and school personnel “engaged in a pattern of blaming and ignoring victims of bullying.”

“Defendants did not employ effective remedial measures against the harassing behavior and the bullying continued for several months,” the lawsuit states.

Superintendent Robert Newhart said in a statement that the concerns raised in the lawsuit were addressed and the district can’t discuss specific disciplinary action against any student.

He also said the district can’t respond to specifics in pending litigation but “if we could provide additional information, you would know that this lawsuit does not provide a full or accurate account of what has transpired between Frances Keitz and the district.”

Before filing the lawsuit last month in Buchanan County Circuit Court, Keitz was banned from the school grounds after she began attending school with her daughter.

She alleges in her lawsuit that the district has made it difficult to remove her daughter so she can be taught at home.

The district says an administrative hearing officer retained as part of a separate federal lawsuit the district filed over education plans for Keitz’s daughter reviewed Keitz’s complaint on that issue and found in the district’s favor.

“The district has already prevailed once on claims brought by Mrs. Keitz, which is a reminder that there are two sides to every story, and that the allegations of a lawsuit are not proof that anything improper actually occurred,” Newhart said.


Information from: The Kansas City Star,


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