Enumclaw student sues school district for $1.2 million over alleged bullying

ENUMCLAW -- The family of an Enumclaw student is suing the school district, saying he was bullied by his classmates and nothing was done to stop it.

The high school student says the bullying happened while he was in middle school.

Thunder Mountain Middle School kept a log of the student’s complaints, but the plaintiff, Andrew, says the school did not do enough to stop the bullying.

The family did not want to release their last name for privacy reasons but Andrew says he was bullied every day for years.

“A lot of times there is pushing and shoving, trying to knock my books out of my hand between classes,” Andrew said.

He says even the classrooms were not safe.

“A student in class came up behind me and put me in a choke-hold,” said Andrew.

He claims the worst attack happened during a spring social in front of a crowd. A police report stated he was jumped from behind. In the end, no criminal charges were filed.

“I had a bloody nose, some red marks on my face, part of my braces had broken,” Andrew said.

The student says he complained to administrators at the middle school up to 50 times.
“All they told me every time I reported it, it was, 'We will look into it,'” Andrew said.

He says the bullying got worse and his grades dropped. He says he was afraid to go to school.
“I lost all faith in the school,” Andrew said.

“I don’t think the answer is telling the victim change your route to the bus, change your route to your locker,” his mother, Tonya, said.

His parents are not just angry -- they are now suing the district.

"We have to at least ask for $1.2 million because apparently nothing is going to get through to these bureaucrats except a financial hit,” attorney Yvonne Kinoshita Ward said.

The family says they hope the lawsuit will change the way the school deals with bullying cases,  not just for Andrew but for other students.

“We deserve for our child to go to school and feel safe not to have to look over his back, not have to feel like it’s a war zone,” Tonya said.

“I am hoping I can be a voice for someone going through the same situation,” Andrew said.

Stephanie Berryhill, with the district, released the statement below Wednesday afternoon.

"Due to student privacy laws the District cannot comment on allegations about what happened two years ago. We can state, however, that school administrators met with the parents and the student as recently as August and there have been no concerns raised by them this year or last year about harassment or bullying.

"The District takes allegations regarding student harassment or bullying very seriously. We are committed to promoting a safe learning environment for all students and actively work to instill positive character traits and values in our students. Any student who believes he or she has been the target of bullying is encouraged to report such incidents to any District staff member.

"The District investigates all reported bullying and takes appropriate corrective measure if a complaint is substantiated. The parents could have elevated their concerns to the superintendent and then to the school board if they were not satisfied with the school's handling of their concerns. They did not do so."

In response, the family said they did meet with the superintendent and were told to send Andrew to an alternative school.