A 15-year-old boy in Enumclaw, Washington is suing the school district for $1.2 million because he said they failed to protect him from bullying.
Andrew, who started getting bullied at Enumclaw’s Thunder Mountain Middle School, was verbally attacked, which moved physical very soon, including getting choked in the middle of class.
“It wasn’t a case of whether they were going to call me names,” the teen, whose last name is being withheld because of his age and his little sister who is still in the school district, said. “It was a case of what names they would call me and how many times.”
Andrew, who started reading Shakespeare in 4th grade and loved school and the violin, started to do poorly in school and became depressed.
“I was in a dark place for quite a while,” he said.
He has been going to counseling now for over a year.
Andrew said the bullying began in 7th grade, and his father (who is in law enforcement) filed a police report when students “circled, attacked and ridiculed his son at a school social.”
“They started kicking, hitting, pushing me to the ground,” Andrew said.
His father, Chris, was initially excited his son decided to go to the social because he had been depressed lately.
“I pull up to pick him up and I watch him walk out from the school and I see the devastation on his face,” Chris said. “It crushed me. I felt like by encouraging him to go, I’d fed the monster.”
After the attack and the police report, the school officers said they would handle it. The attackers were suspended, but Andrew was then called a “snitch” and the attacks only escalated.
Between 7th and 8th grade Andrew filed over 30 complaints with the school staff.
“We send out kids to school with the idea that they’re safe,” Andrew’s mom, Tonya said. “Our son, he’s in fear the whole day.”
The school district released a statement saying: “The District investigates all reported bullying and takes appropriate corrective measures if a complaint is substantiated. The parents could have elevated their concerns to the superintendent and then the school board if they were not satisfied with the school’s handling of their concerned. They did not do so.”
Tonya said she contacted the superintendent twice.
“He was told to change his route to his locker, change his route to class,” attorney Yvonne Kinoshita Ward said. “If that didn’t work, stay home for the rest of the year and be home-schooled. That’s insane.”
Andrew is now in high school. He still goes to school with the same bullies, though he said there have been no attacks this year. Andrew wants to fight back in hopes others who have been bullied will have the courage to fight back as well.
“I’ll still be looking over my shoulder,” Andrew said. “But I can feel a little better knowing I have people who support me.”