Beaverton School District Wins Bullying Trial in Washington County Circuit Court

Marion Herbert's picture
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Washington County civil court trial involving middle-school bullying ended in favor of the Beaverton (Wash.) School District last week. 

Parent Tracey Schweer filed a $300,000 civil case against the school district in August 2010 on behalf of her son, who was a sixth-grader at Five Oaks Middle School in 2009-10. The suit claimed the district had failed to train its staff to identify and prevent bullying and harassment, failed to supervise students and for invasion of privacy. 

The jury trial was in its third day when the school district's attorneys sought a decision from Judge Gayle Nachtigal instead of the jury. 

"We believed the plaintiff had not proved all the elements of the case and moved for a verdict on all counts," said Camellia Osterink, Beaverton School District legal counsel. "The judge agreed." 

A "directed verdict," as it's called, is allowed if there is a "complete absence of proof of an essential issue," according to court documents. 

The judge found the district did not act negligently with respect to its students, did not invade the student's privacy and did and that damages did not result from the district's conduct.

In fact, court documents note that evidence provided by Schweer's attorney helped establish that the school staff followed proper procedures. 

"The plaintiff has shown that when confirmed physical contact occurred and threatening remarks were made, Five Oaks' teachers and administrators acted swiftly to respond to the incident...." 

The invasion of privacy claim related to Schweer giving permission to the Five Oaks principal to talk with her son's doctor, but the assistant principal also sat in on the discussion. 

The judge ruled that Schweer's attorney failed to prove that it was an intentional intrusion or that any private concerns were discussed, among other evidence, according to court documents. 

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