In an unprecedented action, the Millburn School District, Millburn, N.J., agreed to pay Omari George, a 2014 graduate of Millburn High School, $435,000 to settle his lawsuit in which he claimed he was a long term victim of bullying.
The George lawsuit alleged that, though the multiple acts of bullying were reported to school officials, those claims were ignored and that the school officials failed to take action to address the physical and emotional bullying.
The settlement was reached on the first day of the trial, heard in the New Jersey federal court as the George Complaint claimed his civil rights were violated and that Millburn failed to comply with the New Jersey law on bullying.
The law requires that when school officials are made aware that a student is being bullied, they must conduct an investigation and take effective action to address the harmful behavior.
“During my freshman and sophomore years at Millburn I was tormented by other students both physically and emotionally. I was the victim of frequent racial slurs and physical abuse and though I reported these, the school administrators ignored me,” said Omari.
Since Omari’s Millburn High School experience, the New Jersey law was changed to put more teeth into what school administrators must do to address bullying. The new law places responsibility directly on the school to take affirmative action to address allegations of bullying, including cyberbullying.
Millburn High School is frequently recognized as one of the finest schools in New Jersey.
George’s lawyer, Harry Levin of the law firm of LevinCyphers, Toms River, said, “Millburn’s handling of the complaints of bullying was abysmal. They failed to recognize that bullying was a huge problem in their student population. Omari and other minority students routinely faced racist statements and physical intimidation.”
Prior to the George lawsuit, Millburn contracted for a Diversity Study to be performed. The Study disclosed pervasive evidence of a lack of sensitivity to minorities, including that there was not a single African American or Latino teacher at the school.
Levin said, “Our children need to be safe while they are in school and free from harassing behavior, especially when it’s based on race, gender or sexual preference. Teaching children the importance of tolerance and acceptance is as important as the three R’s.”
Omari George, the son of Reverend Daryl and Brenda Barnes-George, a reading teacher, is now a sophomore at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He plans on a career in education and has created his own school for marshal arts. “I want to teach my students the skills necessary to protect themselves if they become a victim,” Omari noted.
Levin commented, “Hopefully the real benefits of this case will be that parents make sure their children are not terrorized by other students, and that effective programs to address bullying must be implemented for New Jersey schools.”
For further information or inquiries please contact Harry Jay Levin, Esq., at LevinCyphers, 700 Hooper Avenue, New Jersey. (732) 240-0909.