Is Legal Action Necessary?
In most instances, legal action is not necessary. Just the threat of a lawsuit is usually enough to spur even the most reluctant school system into corrective action. And in many cases the school district can offer parents and students a mediation program to successfully solve the problem.
But, if after you have made reasonable efforts you are not getting the help and assistance you need from the school to protect your child and his learning environment, a lawsuit may have to be considered. Bullying isn't illegal in the U.S. (perhaps someday soon that will change), but to bully or harass a disabled child about her disability or in relation to her disability is illegal.
There have been numerous lawsuits filed by parents (and students themselves) against schools in the past few years, accusing the schools of failing to act on behalf of bullied children (both abled and disabled). These lawsuits are sending the message loud and clear to schools that they need to take their responsibility to protect children entrusted to their care seriously.
These are some key characteristics of successful disability-harassment lawsuits: The harassment was disability related; school officials were given written notification of the incidents; school officials did nothing or very little to protect the targeted student; the victim was exposed to a hostile environment and was deprived of participation, opportunity, and/or educational benefit.
Lawsuits are by nature adversarial. They set up an “us” against “you” situation. This is not an ideal situation for you or your child. Do everything in your power to solve your child's bullying problem within the school before resorting to legal action. But if you are getting nowhere, it might be time to join the voices in protest against continued school violence.