Jury Rules In School System’s Favor In Bullying Case

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A Baltimore family loses their battle. A jury says city schools are not liable for alleged bullying of their special needs child.

Weijia Jiang has reaction to the verdict.

Jurors say emotionally, they sided with the child and his family. But logically, they could not believe their entire story.

Ed and Shawna Sullivan say their nightmare just got worse.

“I feel betrayed, honestly. I feel betrayed the school system can do these things and get away with it,” said Edmund Sullivan, father.

A jury ruled in favor of Baltimore City schools despite the couple’s grave allegations.

They say their 10-year-old special needs child was severely bullied at two schools—stabbed with a fork, even choked until he passed out, and that the principals knew about repeated attacks but did nothing.

“Obviously I feel upset because I’m going to have to tell him the system failed him, that we failed as parents because we couldn’t protect him,” said Shawna Sullivan, mother.

In Maryland’s first ever bullying trial, Charlotte Williams– head of Glenmount Elementary– and Sidney Twiggs– head of Hazlewood Elementary– faced charges of negligence.

Both were cleared.

“Thank the Lord it’s all gone. That’s all I have to say,” said Sidney Twiggs, defendant.

The Sullivans admit they never filed a written complaint. They had no picture or records of injuries. They say they thought their word was enough.

“In-person complaints don’t mean anything, and phone calls don’t mean anything,” Ed Sullivan said.

Jurors tell WJZ a paper trail could have lead them in the other direction.

“It would have made a big difference, but we went through all the evidence and there was no proof,” said Major Wilkes, juror #3.

“The family couldn’t give names, couldn’t give dates, stories didn’t match up. The fact the child was choked on school property and no one called police,” said Carl Armstrong, juror #6.

Now the Sullivans hope other families can learn from their loss.

“This is a message to all parents to put everything in writing, take pictures, and not rely on the city school system to do the right thing,” said Donna King.

Administrators for Baltimore City schools have been very tight lipped during this trial. They only issued a paper statement to say the case shows how “complex the interactions between students can be” and that they take allegations of misconduct seriously.

The family’s attorney says they have not discussed whether to file an appeal.

  • twobux

    Parents never reported it. No paper trail, no money. Nice try though…better luck next time.

  • Jayne

    With so little evidence, I am having trouble seeing how this made it to court. It seems like such a waste of tax-payer money to file such empty law suits.

  • Wiseguy

    The verdict is in……nice try……… but you get no big payday.

    Next time try to actually present a case.

  • Meeee

    Should have used vigilante justice. The govt. doesn’t care about one child, unless he would snap and go postal and get the nations attention again just like c o l u m b i n e. The law never works for the righteous.

  • pathetic

    The school systems responsibility when bullying is brought to their attention..
    Teacher: Did you hit him?
    Bully: No, did anyone see me bully him?
    Teacher: No, its ok. No evidence no crime.

  • Karla Brown

    I agree with the comments above, but one question……..If he was really strangled until he blacked out….Where were the teachers?

  • Steve Wilson

    Apparently, in Baltimore City Schools, ignorance IS an excuse.

  • andy botwin

    just get a better lawyer, we will sue for 3-9 million
    call me asap Andy1800-pay days

  • http://ronskemp.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/maryland-jury-rules-in-favor-of-school/ Maryland Jury Rules in Favor of School!!! | ronkempmusic

    […] it doesn’t matter what the facts are.  What matters is what can be proven.  A jury in Maryland ruled in favor of the school and school administrators in a high-profile bullying case of a 10-year-old special […]

  • mjinmd

    I hope all you self-rightous people don’t have children in the public school system, anywhere. The school system is not going to take the blame for anything.

  • bmoregyrl

    I have a special needs daughter that was being bullied and I did not know of the paper work that they showed on tv all I did was report it and the school did nothing and I side with the parents because you tell the school and they do nothing. I wish that the would have wrote things down and made a report but the principal was on the stand to say that she knew and the kid who was doing bullying did not get into trouble. It’s just like it you are uncomfortable about what someone says and they keep doing it, it’s against the law so why would she let it happen and not punish the child. I hope that they get some justice.

  • keets

    If it was a black POS they would still be counting the money. That’s balto, a coon town.

  • Phil

    All the principals have to do is take the fifth and that’s it, so it seems. Schools are failing in their duty of care for kids getting bullied. A “paper trail”? Get a record of the call? Can’t tape the call. Only thing that can be done is photograph injuries incurred. Still an aggressive lawyer could say it was self-inflicted. Doctors’ reports faked. Exaggerated to police. What extent do people have to go to prove their child is being bullied? Do schools just ignore the victim and hope it goes away? The system fails the victims always. That’s why it continues.

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