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U.S. Supreme Court Declines Review in School Bullying Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the appeal of three Pennsylvania families who alleged in a lawsuit that their school district failed to effectively respond to the bullying of middle school students.

"[L]ife at school" for the three boys "was a daily repertoire of being pushed, shoved, hit, kicked and verbally abused by a group of larger boys," said the appeal of the three families.

They charged that the Gettysburg Area School District and various school officials "intentionally denied assistance to the [boys and their parents], refusing to supervise and/or respond to confrontational dangerous situations even though future acts of bullying and injuries were predictable."

The families alleged that the school district violated their First Amendment free expression rights by retaliating against them for complaining and their 14th Amendment due-process rights to receive an education free of physical and verbal abuse.

The families' suit was dismissed in a federal district court, a decision that was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, in Philadelphia.

"As with other bullying cases we have confronted, we are sympathetic to the plight of the student victims," the 3rd Circuit court said in January. "However, without any allegation of action by the school district, the case falls squarely within our binding precedent."

The appellate court noted a 2013 decision by the 3rd Circuit, which I wrote about here, that a case of school bullying by other students typically does not implicate the "special relationship" or "state-created danger" doctrines of government liability. (The Supreme Court last year declined to take up that case as well.)

The Gettysburg school district waived its right to file a response to the families' Supreme Court appeal.

The justices declined without comment on Nov. 3 to hear the appeal in Monn v. Gettysburg Area School District (Case No. 14-193).

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