Broward County School District Faces Bullying Lawsuit From Florida Mother
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A mother in Coral Springs, Fla. is filing a lawsuit against her school district after she says bullying led her daughter to the brink of suicide.
Brianne, 13-years-old and once a student at Ramblewood Middle School, started acting up at home as a result of the alleged bullying. In one instance, her mother told her to go to her room and stay there.
"She said, 'Well, it's your fault if I commit suicide,'" Brianne's mother Randi Vanderheyden told NBC Miami.
But after a while, Vanderheyden became concerned.
"It was really quiet in her room and when we went to check on her, she was trying to hang herself," Vanderheyden told the South Florida Times.
Brianne's father took the teen to the hospital, and she survived. But the lingering effects of the school bullying and her attempt last to this day. Brianne is no longer attending Ramblewood, and is taking online courses from home.
In the lawsuit against the Broward County School District, Vanderheyden claims that Brianne was a victim of discrimination, hate crimes, bullying and harassment, among others, WSVN-TV reports. She told the station that she requested a school transfer for her daughter, a request that was granted, but was denied bussing.
The bullying reportedly began in January, when black students would toss out racial slurs, calling Brianne "white sl-t" and "white b-tch," according to the South Florida Times. At one point, a boy called her "Pinocchio nose," teasing her so loudly in class that others turned to look and laugh, according to NBC Miami.
"She started coming home saying she wanted a nose job, really depressed about her looks," Vanderheyden told NBC Miami. Vanderheyden's suit also claims that Brianne was physically harassed.
When Brianne's father went to complain to the school, the bullying only got worse. The issue is under investigation.
The suit seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress, psychological injuries and medical expenses, the South Florida Times reports.
"I felt sad, hurt that one, they weren't protecting her and two, I couldn't do anything about it," Vanderheyden told WSVN. "They need to stop it before something happens because we're lucky that we didn't lose our daughter, but many families have."
In August, teen music artist Rebecca Black was left her school in Anaheim, Calif. after reportedly being bullied relenetlessly for her hit single, "Friday." Her mother is now homeschooling her to avoid bullies and focus on her career.
Most notably, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of Williamsville, N.Y. took his life in September after being victim to years of bullying for being gay. His suicide came after he posted an "It Gets Better" video, encouraging kids to accept and love themselves for who they are, and thanking Lady Gaga for being his inspiration through her song, "Born This Way."
Following an investigation into the bullying reports, Amherts police said this week that the harassment Rodemeyer was subject to both online and at school could not be considered criminal and no charges would be filed.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.