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Judge OKs Private Student Parents to Sue Bellmore-Merrick SD

Posted on May 23, 2014

A Nassau County judge will allow a private school student who left the Bellmore-Merrick School district to sue the district for cyberbullying that allegedly occurred after she left the district.

Supreme Court Justice Thomas Feinman ruled that the Dignity for All Students Act “does not limit the regulation of students’ harassment and bullying only when it occurs on school property” or only when the victim is a registered student in the public district.

The girl had a history of being bullied in the district and had transferred from one public elementary school to another during the 2010-2011 school year after a student threatened her life. She left the district completely to enroll in private school for the 2012-2013 school year, her eighth grade year.

According to the report, two Merrick-Bellmore public school students circulated a lewd video with a girl that they falsely asserted was the newly transferred student.

The complaint alleged that after the girl’s parents learned of the video, they contacted the district, but the district did not follow the Dignity for All Students Cct.

Feinman did remove Superintendent John DeTommasso and middle school Principal Meador Pratt as defendants, but let the claim against the district continue.

The district had argued that the 2012 anti-bullying law -- the Dignity for All Students Act -- did not cover a private school.

"The District's interpretation [of the law] . . . would have the effect of an absurd result . . . [which] would, in effect, turn a blind eye to any such incidents occurring on or off school property, regardless of any potential serial harmful acts . . . by its students should the targeted student be of a certain class . . . a private school student," Feinman wrote.

The girl's family has filed a separate suit against the two students' families.

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