When a 17-year old’s abusive ex-boyfriend drove her to attempt suicide, her mother complained to Plymouth-Canton school administrators and resource officers. They told her that “kids will be kids.”
A federal lawsuit accuses Michigan’s Plymouth-Canton Community Schools of failing to respond to harassment complaints by a 17-year old girl, whose ex-boyfriend’s stalking was so extreme she attempted suicide.
The 31-page suit, filed Thursday, outlines incidents of “extreme and ongoing” intimidation. Spanning 16 months, the harassment was so intense the high school sophomore swallowed a bottle of Adderall pills in April of 2017.
The New York Post reports that the suicide attempt was the ‘culmination of earlier abused she suffered at the school.’
The lawsuit says her ex-boyfriend publicly called her a ‘slut’ and told other students he hoped she ‘gets raped again.’ The latter statement, notes the Post, is a reference to sexual abuse the girl said she’d suffered as a toddler. She’d confided the secret in her then-partner, who she’d been dating for just under a month.
“Why won’t he leave me alone?” the girl later asked at the University of Michigan Hospital. “I can’t take it anymore. Everyone hates me. I am a whore. They need to know my 13 reasons why.”
Attorney Jennifer Salvatore says the “egregious harassment and bullying” didn’t stop even after the girl attempted suicide. Her ex-boyfriend allegedly continued to stalk her, showing up to marching band practices and once pushing her into a fence.
“They made 10 complaints,” Salvatore said of the girl and her mother. “They had to get a [restraining order]. I think sometimes litigation is the only way to call institutions’ attention to the fact that they have a legal responsibility here and that kids’ lives are at stake.”
The lawsuit further claims that school officials did little to resolve the family’s complaints. One resource officer told the girl’s mother that “kids will be kids.”
In another instance from November of 2017, another resource officer told the girl’s mother she didn’t believe the accusations. The officer threatened to file felony charges over the “false” report.
Salvatore said she’s not sure whether any disciplinary action was ever taken against the alleged stalker.
“My client’s mother was told, “We’ll talk to him’,” she said. “But we don’t really know what happened.”
The girl’s mother filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights last year, after she was again threatened with criminal charges for filing a “false” claim.
“The district has utterly failed this student,” Salvatore told the Detroit Free Press. “Rather than properly address this family’s repeated reports of harassment by a male student, district administrators essentially did nothing. They let my client suffer … until she tried to kill herself.”
Plymouth-Canton Schools has maintained its lack of culpability.
“The district does not tolerate harassment of any kind,” it said in a statement. “All allegations of harassment are taken seriously, are investigated thoroughly, and responded to with appropriate action. We are unable to comment on any specific student matter.”