Suit: School failed girl who tried to kill self after ex-boyfriend stalked her
A former Canton High School student is suing the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools in court, alleging district officials failed to stop bullying by her ex-boyfriend that caused her to try to kill herself.
The 31-page complaint, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, claims "extreme and ongoing sex-based" bullying by the girl's former boyfriend.
"This case centers on a school district whose deliberate indifference to the extreme and ongoing sex-based bullying of (the girl) by the male student led her to attempt suicide, after she tried — repeatedly and unavailingly — to secure help and protection from District officials," the suit says.
The Plymouth-Canton Community Community District failed to take "appropriate action" and showed a "deliberate indifference" to the bullying of the girl, according to the lawsuit.
The district declined to comment specifically on the suit but issued a statement Friday.
"The district does not tolerate harassment of any kind," the statement says. "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."
The alleged bullying took place over a year, according to the lawsuit. The girl was 14-15 at the time and was a freshman and later a sophomore at Canton High School.
The boy attended Salem High School, which shares a campus with the district's two other high schools, until around November 2017, according to the complaint. The two dated briefly during the summer of 2016 and broke up that August, the suit says.
When the teens returned to classes in the fall, the ex-boyfriend allegedly started stalking and intimidating the girl, calling her "slut" and "whore" in the hallways. He allegedly also began "flipping off" her and waiting for the girl outside of her classes.
During a Canton football game in October 2016, the boy allegedly pointed at his ex-girlfriend, who was playing in the marching band, and shouted insults to her from the stands.
About two months later, the boy allegedly told a friend of the girl that he hoped she "gets raped again." The attorney for the girl said the girl had confided to the boy during their brief relationship that she had been sexually assaulted as a toddler by a babysitter and the sitter's husband.
The girl, according to the lawsuit, reported the incidents to the Salem High School principal and a school counselor at Canton High School. Both told the girl's mom they would "handle it," according to the lawsuit.
The girl was not informed of any measures that were taken against the boy other than a verbal reprimand, the lawsuit contends.
The ex-boyfriend, according to the lawsuit, continued his verbal assaults on the girl. In February 2017, the teens attended a "Snowcoming" school dance and the boy allegedly looked at the girl and yelled in front of a group of students, "I hope she gets raped again!."
The girl reported the incident to her counselor the following Monday, but the school did not handle the incident under federal Title IX guidelines as required by law, the suit alleges.
"My client and her family have been trying for some time to get the district to do the right thing," the girl's attorney, Jennifer Salvatore, said Friday.
Salvatore said she believes the handling of the complaint about the incident could be a "significant liability to the district."
"I believe this could have been avoided," she said.
The alleged harassment continued throughout most of 2017, according the lawsuit, with the ex-boyfriend allegedly calling the girl a "whore" on March 31, 2017.
The girl's home was egged and toilet-papered and the word "whore" was written in dog feces on the garage door of the family's home, the suit says, and the tires of a car parked om the home's driveway were flattened.
The girl reported that incident to school officials when she returned to school April 10, 2017 from spring break, according to the suit, which says a school officer called the girl's mother to tell her that he and another school official would investigate.
The lawsuit maintains that "for the third time," school officials "disregarded and failed" to invoke the school's Title IX policies and procedures.
Within days of the feces incident at the girl's home, she took a "high dose" of Adderall. according to the suit. The teen went to school that morning and attended two classes and spent the subsequent four hours walking around school with two friends because she was too "agitated" to sit in a classroom.
The girl's friend put her on the school bus home. Later that night, the girl's mother realized what had happened to her daughter and rushed her to the emergency room at the University of Michigan, the suit says.
The girl was stabilized from the Adderall overdose and admitted to the hospital's Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit, where she spent two weeks overcoming the effects of the drug. She has been since diagnosed with PTSD and major depression, according to the lawsuit.
The girl returned to school in May 2017 but was still confronted by the boy, according to the lawsuit. The girl's mother reported the incident to school officials.
The girl is not able to attend classes on the school's campus due to "severe anxiety and post-traumatic" stress, the suit says. She is being tutored at home but is not able to "fully participate" in school activities or keep up with her academic curriculum, according to the lawsuit.