Minnesota school district reaches $297,000 bullying settlement
Several civil rights groups announced an insurance settlement of $297,000 between six students and a Minnesota school district represented by Rep. Michele Bachmann for the district’s failure to punish bullying.
The coalition of civil rights advocates said it resolved complaints against the Anoka-Hennepin School District after years of sexual and physical harassment on students not being reprimanded, according to a press release Tuesday evening from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), along with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and law firms Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and Culberth & Lienemann LLP.
The Department of Justice filed a complaint against the district Tuesday and conducted an investigation with the Department of Education into harassment. The agreement however resolves both the DOJ’s lawsuit and investigation.
The six students, four of whom identify as LGBT, will receive the insurance money for enduring severe bullying. The district also will devout $500,000 of its money to “help prevent and address sex-based harassment at its middle and high schools.”
“This is an important step toward making LGBT and gender non-conforming students feel safe and welcome in district schools,” NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said. “The district has committed to a detailed long-term plan to prevent and address harassment, as well as ongoing review of its implementation of the plan by federal agencies.”
Last month, the Anoka-Hennepin school district ended its “neutral” position that allowed teachers to remain silent on issues of LGBT rights.
The groups held a press conference Tuesday morning to further discuss the magnitude of the settlement.
“This dissent decree is amazing achievement,” said Celeste Culberth, one half of Culberth & Lienemann LLP. “It creates a path for meaningful and real change in this district, And it requires the district to take a walk down that path and to change, and do it quickly.”
The settlement must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Joan N. Ericksen.