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Bullying victim sues New York Department of Education

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According to the complaint, the final straw occurred on April 21, 2009, when John Tamola was brutally assaulted by a classmate and the school continued to ignore pleas from the victim's mother for a transfer.

NEW YORK, July 22, 2010 -- The law firm of Harwood Feffer LLP (www.hfesq.com) today announced that it has filed in New York State Supreme Court, New York County, a lawsuit alleging the deprivation of civil rights and negligence against the City of New York and the Department of Education on behalf of John Tamola and his mother, Carolanne Tamola.

The complaint alleges that John Tamola, while a student enrolled in a special needs education program at Middle School 104, was repeatedly beaten, threatened and robbed by fellow students from May 2008 through April 2009. On numerous occasions, the boy's mother, Carolanne Tamola, spoke with the school's principal, Rosemarie Gaetani, and begged for a transfer for her son for safety reasons. Her complaints and requests fell on deaf ears as she was given empty assurances that steps would be taken to protect her son. Despite her pleas, and a requirement that the special education class have additional supervision, school officials failed to take any measures to protect her son from further harm. John Tamola continued to be the victim of continuous threats, harassment, and abuse.

According to the complaint, the final straw occurred on April 21, 2009, when John was brutally assaulted by another classmate who had lain in waiting to attack him in a science classroom. John was then grabbed by the classmate, beaten and had his head slammed into a desk causing him serious bodily injury. After the beating, a school nurse recommended that John be taken to the emergency room to be treated for contusions, bruises, and a large bump on his head. However, school officials failed to do so and provided no medical care other than an ice pack. Remarkably, John's mother was not informed of the beating until the end of the school day.

Following the April 21, 2009 attack, a bookend to nearly two years of abuse, torment and failings by school officials to provide a safe learning environment for John Tamola, his mother withdrew him from Middle School 104. When John did not return to the school, school officials apparently filed charges with the Administration for Children Services (ACS) alleging that Mrs. Tamola was neglecting her son. Mrs. Tamola was then subjected to a humiliating and stressful investigation by ACS workers who eventually concluded that the charges were false and unfounded.

As a result of the nightmarish experience, the Tamolas filed a lawsuit seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The complaint, filed on July 20, 2010, by their attorneys, Harwood Feffer LLP, alleges violations of both state and federal law.

 

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