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District, parent settle bullying suit in Wyoming

District, parent settle bullying suit in Wyoming

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A Casper woman who accused school officials of failing to protect her daughter from months of bullying has accepted a $60,000 settlement offer from the Natrona County School District, court documents filed Tuesday show.

A lawyer for Pamela Gray, the parent who filed suit in May over the alleged harassment, accepted the district’s offer of judgment late Monday afternoon, according to an e-mail posted on a federal court database. The settlement was finalized the next day.

The case had been set for trial in August in U.S. District Court.

In her suit, Gray said her daughter, a student at Fort Caspar Academy, suffered months of harassment at the hands of a boy who attended the Casper school. She accused the school’s principal, Randall Larson, of acting with “deliberate indifference” toward the situation, even after being informed the girl had been victimized.

Lawyers for the district denied Gray’s assertions and argued the school took steps to protect the girl. In its offer, the district noted that it was not admitting to the allegations or agreeing that the girl had suffered any damages.

Cheyenne attorney Julie Nye Tiedeken, who represented the school district and Larson, did not return a message left Tuesday at her office. Gray’s attorney, John Robinson of Casper, declined comment.

In court documents that accompanied the lawsuit, Gray claimed her daughter was repeatedly harassed and assaulted by a young boy from her homeroom. She maintained the bullying, which began in August 2009 and continued through the time of the lawsuit, ranged from punching the girl in the face to shoving her to the ground.

According to Gray, the bullying continued even after Larson promised to protect the girl.

In the suit, Robinson asked a judge to force the district to assure the boy stayed away from Gray’s daughter while on school grounds.

He also asked the court to force the district to conform to Title IX — a federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools — by developing a written sexual harassment policy for students and a procedure to investigate and resolve student sexual harassment complaints.

Through its lawyers, the district denied it violated Title IX. Larson restricted access between Gray’s daughter and the boy, who was at first suspended, and then transferred to another school, according to court documents filed by the district last fall.

At the time the suit was filed, an attorney for the school district said it had a clear anti-bullying policy in place that included a process for reporting and investigating complaints.

Contact Joshua Wolfson at (307) 266-0582 or at josh.wolfson@trib.com. Visit trib.com/news/opinion/blogs/wolfjammies/ to read his blog.

Follow him on Twitter @joshwolfson.

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