In David & Tina Long v. Murray County School District & Gina Linder, a case that involved bullying in a school setting, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted summary judgment in favor of the Murray County School System.
Tyler Young, a 17 year old, committed suicide in 2008 after being bullied by classmates. His parents, David and Tina Long, sued the school district, alleging that the district was liable for their son’s death. Throughout his academic career, Tyler’s classmates spit in his food, knocked books out of his arms, stole things from him, called him names, threw things at him, shoved him, punched him, and slammed him into lockers. Following his death, students drew a hangman’s noose on school walls and wrote, “We will not miss you” and “It was your own fault.” Some students also wore nooses around their necks.
The court found that there was very little question that Tyler was the victim of severe disability harassment and that the school district “should have done more to stop the harassment and prevent future incidents.” Despite this, the court determined that the Longs failed to demonstrate that the school district’s responses to reports that Tyler was bullied created deliberate indifference. The district’s techniques in preventing harassment were not always effective, but the district wasn’t deliberately indifferent simply because the measures it took were ineffective in stopping the harassment.
The United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted summary judgment in favor of the Murray County School District, holding that school administrators did not demonstrate deliberate indifference to Tyler Long and did not violate his civil rights by failing to shield him from bullying by other students at the school. The court held that, although Tyler may have been bullied by his classmates, his constitutional rights hadn’t been violated due to the fact that the school district didn’t have a constitutional duty to protect Tyler from his peers.