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Judge to decide Clark County School District bullying lawsuit

Testimony wrapped up Tuesday in a civil trial over whether the Clark County School District did enough to protect two students at Henderson’s Greenspun Junior High from being bullied.

After a five-day bench trial, District Judge Nancy Allf asked lawyers to put their closing arguments in writing and said she planned to review the papers by the end of March. The judge did not say when she expected to make a ruling.

“This is a case of difficult subject matter before the court,” Allf told the lawyers.

Two boys, who were 13 at the time, claimed they were shoved, called homophobic names and stabbed with trombones in band class during a six-month period that began in August 2011. One of them was stabbed in the groin with a pencil and required medical attention, while the other contemplated suicide, according to the lawsuit.

School police on multiple occasions discouraged the families from filing an official report, the lawsuit alleged.

The civil complaint, filed in April 2014, alleged that the school district failed to “adopt, implement and ensure compliance with policies and practices that ensure the safety of students faced with harassment and discrimination.”

It also claimed the teens’ constitutional rights to equal protection were violated.

Former American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada lawyer Allen Lichtenstein, who represents the boys’ parents, called bullying “a pervasive problem” in schools.

“It’s very clear that these kids were bullied,” he said after the trial. “It’s very clear the school district knew about it and didn’t do what they should have.”

One boy’s mother, Aimee Hairr, testified Tuesday that she pulled her son out of Greenspun in February 2012 after learning that he was continually bullied.

“I failed my son because I trusted the school district,” she told the judge.

In court papers filed days before the trial began, defense lawyers argued that the school’s faculty “engaged in a calculated effort to end the harassment and that the response was largely effective.”

After testimony concluded, attorney Daniel Polsenberg, who represents the school district, said officials want students to report bullying “with all the facts” in the hopes of preventing similar situations in the future.

“What we’ve learned here is we need to encourage students to report bullying,” Polsenberg said. “The Clark County School District cares very much about bullying and cares about protecting the students. And the principal, administrator and dean at Greenspun did everything they thought they needed to do for the information that they had in hand. It turns out there was more information.”

The lawsuit was filed four months after the death of White Middle School student Hailee Lamberth, who committed suicide after being bullied. Her father, Jason Lamberth, said the school district failed to tell the girl’s family that another student had harassed her weeks before her suicide.

Lamberth also filed a lawsuit against the school district, and that case is set for trial in May.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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