Lawyer for girls alleges school negligent in preventing violence
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A lawyer representing two eighth-grade girls who said they were attacked at Dillard High School in violence that was captured on cellphone video has notified the Broward County school board and the state of Florida of his intent to sue for negligence.
Attorney Jordan Shaw, who is representing students Mariah Green and Jar’Kivia Davis, said the school failed to protect the girls, even after numerous bullying complaints from family members to Dillard administrators.
“It’s a negligence complaint,” Shaw said. “Both parents complained several times to the school … and nothing was done, and it ultimately resulted in the severe beating you guys aired on television.”
School board member Rosalind Osgood, whose district includes Dillard, said she looked into the case and felt that “more aggressive action should have been taken.” She said Dillard administrators handled the investigation as a mutual combat case — because there were words and threats from both sides — rather than instituting the school board’s bullying policy.
“If what we did was mutual combat, it obviously didn’t work,” Osgood said. “So now we’re looking at it from a bullying perspective.”
Both girls said they were attacked in the school, and the video of the beating of Green shows a group of at least seven girls attacking not only Green, but another unidentified girl.
“They keep attacking me,” a sobbing Green, 14, said. “I could be walking down the hallway and then somebody will come bump into me and want to fight for no reason. … They follow me home. Like, why are you all following me home?”
Shaw said that even if there were words exchanged from both sides, the brutal gang-like beating of his client should have alerted school staff to the fact that it was a serious bullying situation. Instead, Green was suspended from school for being involved in a fight.
“For whatever reason, (the school board’s bullying) policy was not implemented here,” Shaw said. “And based on my other cases — I have several of these — it is not implemented very often.”
Shaw said both girls have remained out of school because of fear and are in therapy. The school board has six months to respond to Shaw’s notice of intent to sue.
The investigation is continuing.