MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) – Parents claim in Federal Court that a high school’s failure to stop the bullying of their overweight, disabled daughter caused her to jump to her death from a bridge over Interstate 65.
Jim and Jill Moore sued the Chilton County Board of Education for the wrongful death of their daughter, A.M., who was a student at Jemison High School.
The Moores say their daughter had Blount’s disease, which made her bowlegged, and which is associated with obesity. Blount’s disease made her “unusually slow … unable to participate in physical activities, and often late to class and other engagements.” She had corrective surgery which put her in a wheelchair, made her use a walker, and gave her an awkward gait, and she also has suffered “the untimely and tragic death of her sister,” her parents say.
To top it off, the Moores say, their daughter was subjected to daily torment by school bullies. They called her “fat bitch” and mocked her for her slowness.
Teachers offered no help, the parents say. Instead of accommodating her disability, teachers punished her for it: “They criticized A.M. for being late; they punished her with detentions and time-out for being victimized. They abandoned her on the school bus, in the classroom, in the hallways, and in the janitor’s closet.”
The Moore’s say their daughter’s calls for help went unanswered while the pranks intensified.
“Numerous school administrators, staff and teachers witnessed a variety of bullying activities directed at A.M.,” the parents say. “She apparently reported many of them; many were committed in plain view; some right in front of the school office.”
In one incident, a bully pulled A.M.’s pants and underwear down in front of a crowd. On another day she was locked in a closet with trash, her parents say. She also was made the object of “pig races.”
She jumped off a bridge on May 18, 2010. The 20-page complaint includes her suicide note, which begins:
“Dear Mom and Dad,
“I’m leaving today. I’m taking my own life. I’m killing myself because I can’t take this crap anymore.”
She then names one boy, or man, “the local law enforcement,” three people by initials, and says “this is all the crap that’s making me do this.”
“Don’t try to stop me. By the time you find this letter, I’ll be dead. It’s not your fault. But do not worry. Rejoice because I will be with Him.
“Soon, I will return, but in a different form.”
The complaint then lists a “History of Bullying and Harassment in the United States,” and asks that the school district be ordered to establish an anti-bullying program. The parents also seek damages and exemplary damages for constitutional violations, pain and suffering, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Their lead counsel is Greg White of Waco.