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Enumclaw student sues school district for $1.2 million over alleged bullying

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ENUMCLAW — The family of an Enumclaw student is suing the school district, saying he was bullied by his classmates and nothing was done to stop it.

The high school student says the bullying happened while he was in middle school.

Thunder Mountain Middle School kept a log of the student’s complaints, but the plaintiff, Andrew, says the school did not do enough to stop the bullying.

The family did not want to release their last name for privacy reasons but Andrew says he was bullied every day for years.

“A lot of times there is pushing and shoving, trying to knock my books out of my hand between classes,” Andrew said.

He says even the classrooms were not safe.

“A student in class came up behind me and put me in a choke-hold,” said Andrew.

He claims the worst attack happened during a spring social in front of a crowd. A police report stated he was jumped from behind. In the end, no criminal charges were filed.

“I had a bloody nose, some red marks on my face, part of my braces had broken,” Andrew said.

The student says he complained to administrators at the middle school up to 50 times.
“All they told me every time I reported it, it was, 'We will look into it,'” Andrew said.

He says the bullying got worse and his grades dropped. He says he was afraid to go to school.
“I lost all faith in the school,” Andrew said.

“I don’t think the answer is telling the victim change your route to the bus, change your route to your locker,” his mother, Tonya, said.

His parents are not just angry -- they are now suing the district.

"We have to at least ask for $1.2 million because apparently nothing is going to get through to these bureaucrats except a financial hit,” attorney Yvonne Kinoshita Ward said.

The family says they hope the lawsuit will change the way the school deals with bullying cases,  not just for Andrew but for other students.

“We deserve for our child to go to school and feel safe not to have to look over his back, not have to feel like it’s a war zone,” Tonya said.

“I am hoping I can be a voice for someone going through the same situation,” Andrew said.

Stephanie Berryhill, with the district, released the statement below Wednesday afternoon.

"Due to student privacy laws the District cannot comment on allegations about what happened two years ago. We can state, however, that school administrators met with the parents and the student as recently as August and there have been no concerns raised by them this year or last year about harassment or bullying.

"The District takes allegations regarding student harassment or bullying very seriously. We are committed to promoting a safe learning environment for all students and actively work to instill positive character traits and values in our students. Any student who believes he or she has been the target of bullying is encouraged to report such incidents to any District staff member.

"The District investigates all reported bullying and takes appropriate corrective measure if a complaint is substantiated. The parents could have elevated their concerns to the superintendent and then to the school board if they were not satisfied with the school's handling of their concerns. They did not do so."

In response, the family said they did meet with the superintendent and were told to send Andrew to an alternative school.

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17 comments

  • Jeremy W.

    Where were the parents at? Years of this and they did not care until they learned they could collect big $? If its about punishing the guilty there should have been criminal/civil charges filed against the bullies at the time of the alleged assaults. This financial “hit” is in on tax payers, not bureaucrats! #Broke?CantParent?SueSomebodyForAWindfall

    • Eric

      Perhaps then the tax payers will start asking questions about what is actually being done to stop and prevent bulling instead of just accept the blanket statement that the school gave. The school needs to be able to specify in detail how it is responding. Just telling the victim to leave is NOT a solution. That is rewarding the perpetrators by providing them with the feeling that they permanently won the final round over the victim. The perpetrators need to be forced to leave instead with additional appropriate punitive action as well.

  • Steve W

    It’s always someone else that is to blame. I am definitely not saying bullying is ok at any point and it is sad this young man went through this. But as a parent, if this happened some 50 different times, I wouldn’t be sitting back and accepting an answer of we are looking into it. A bit too passive for me. Simply filing a lawsuit 2 years later isn’t the answer. The only one’s that make out on that are the lawyers at the cost of tax payers.

    • Sammie

      The mother is exactly right… the only thing they’ll “hear” is a hit in the wallet. Go get em Mom. When they lose enough money, maybe THEN, they’ll decide to actually do something.

  • Nikki Drake

    I am dealing with this for two of my children at a middle school and elementary… i have removed my students from schools and had them terrorized walking thru our own neighborhood… with the schools here saying the same thing…. only problem here …. there are no other schools… and asking for a transfer…. we were denied. I hope you win this case. Kids have to deaL with enough crap… bullying shouldn’t be included.

  • Pie squared is a cake

    This kid would have never survived the school system of the sixties and seventies. If you think it’s bad now, it was encouraged behavior by some teachers back then.

  • Sally Hansen

    This is ridiculous! I attended school in the Enumclaw District from kindergarten all the way through graduation. I went to Thunder Mountain Middle School and I remember going to classes for PE that were about anti-bullying every Friday. Leadership always put on assemblies about bullying as well. The District is not to blame, they put in a lot of effort to stop bullying. Why not go to the parents of the bullies? The Enumclaw School District has amazing schools that my siblings, my cousins, and I all attended.

  • brandon

    I was bullied in middle school, one time when my bully picked my up in a bear hug I kicked him in the nuts. It was over then. I didn’t get bullied anymore. Sometimes you have to stop being a wuss and stand up for yourself. No I am not saying bullying is ok but you can’t run to a teacher anytime some one does something to you. When in the “real world” what are you going to do when a co-worker makes fun of your clothes or the way you talk or whatever it is, you going to cry to the boss and say he is picking on me. NO! You are going to have to handle it like a freaking man/woman. I think this is just crazy.

    • Tammy

      Are you stupid or what??? In the ‘real world’, if someone attacks you like this ‘kid’ has been attacked, it’s considered assault. And if co-workers attack someone the way this kids been attacked, they generally get fired and or arrested for aggravated assault. Some of the kids, who are being bullied these days by fellow classmates and feel helpless because nothing is being done my administration, do take matters into their own hands. They take guns to school and shoot the perpetrators..

  • Justus

    I am currently a student at Enumclaw High school as a Junior, and Andrew miller is one of the meanest kids I have ever met. He is one of those kids that thinks he can get away with being a jerk to everyone and in return never get bullied. There has been bullying done to him, but most of his stories are complete exaggerations, and he never states how he might have been to blame in these situations. Also how his taking money from the school district going to help anything, except cause the school district financial strife, and lessen funds for the frequent anti bullying assemblies, programs, and events our school puts on.

  • Mark Bowen

    “We have to at least ask for $1.2 million because apparently nothing is going to get through to these bureaucrats except a financial hit,” attorney Yvonne Kinoshita Ward said.

    Spoken like a true greedy, scumbag lawyer. The school won’t pay that, the taxpayers will. You’re scum, Yvonne, a true ambulance chaser.