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California jury awards $1M to teen bullied in middle school

A California jury has awarded $1 million to a teen who was bullied at El Segundo Middle School after the school district failed to protect her. Photo courtesy of elsegundomiddleschool.org.

A California jury has awarded $1 million to a teenager who was simply bullied at El Segundo Middle School following the school district didn’t protect her. Photo thanks to elsegundomiddleschool.org.

Aug. 31 (UPI) — A California jury has awarded $1 million in damages to a teenager who was simply bullied in middle school after her LA school district didn’t protect her.

A LA County Superior Court jury ruled on Wednesday that El Segundo Unified School District’s negligence harmed Eleri Irons, who was simply 13 once the bullying began in November 2017, in accordance with court public records.

Irons, who’s now 18, was awarded $700,000 in damages for past pain and suffering, and $300,000 for just about any future emotional trauma she may suffer, in accordance with her attorney Christa Ramey.

The initial lawsuit, filed in 2019, accused the district of failing woefully to protect Irons while she attended El Segundo Middle School where she was “bullied, tormented and verbally assaulted” by three students, including person who started a petition called “Let’s Kill Eleri Irons.”

The bullying “included verbal harassment, spreading nasty rumors and texting mean comments directly” to her, the suit said.

The complaint also accused teachers of failing woefully to notify Irons’ parents once they discovered the petition.

“When this petition was discovered by teachers, they didn’t notify the parents of claimant in virtually any manner,” the suit said. “The gross negligence by school, teachers, principal and district led to significant physical and psychological trauma to claimant.”

Ramey said the prolonged bullying led Irons to cut herself and suffer PTSD.

“Every teacher, counselor and administrator who touched this case failed not merely my client, but additionally the aggressors and almost every other student at the institution,” Ramey said in a statement. “Bullying is usually to be taken seriously, and the administrators are culpable if they don’t stop it.”

The El Segundo Unified School District issued a statement saying it respects the court ruling and vowed to help make the well-being of its students a high priority by adding two student safety positions, a security assessment for several schools and a bunch alert system to flag any potential bullying online.

“Once we move forward, we have been focused on self-improvement and doing everything we are able to to avoid bullying inside our schools,” the district said.

Ramey said this case isn’t just about Irons.

“When other kids speak up in the foreseeable future, schools will listen. I believe that’s what the verdict says. These cases with emotional injury to a kid are lifelong and lasting plus they are serious,” Ramey said. “And schools have to give a lot more than just lip service to anti-bullying policies, they absolutely need to implement them.”

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