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Sunday, May 29, 2016
Family sues Central over alleged cyber-bullying
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Last year, three Merrick Avenue Middle School students allegedly spread false rumors online that a lewd video contained images of a girl who attended Merrick elementary schools before moving to a private school in seventh grade, according to a lawsuit the girl’s parents filed against the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District.

The parents of a girl who is now in high school, and who never attended the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, are suing the district after a handful of Merrick Avenue Middle School students allegedly circulated a “lewd” video defaming the girl during the 2012-13 school year.

The parents charge that the district failed to protect their daughter under provisions of the Dignity for All Students Act, which took effect in 2012 and aims to prevent bullying, including cyber-bullying, in schools.

In court documents, the parents say they notified district officials, including the MAMS principal and an assistant principal, about the video, and they did not properly act to prevent its further distribution.

The parents' lawsuit did acknowledge that MAMS Principal Meador Pratt called Nassau County police to inform them of the video.

Bellmore-Merrick officials sought to have the lawsuit dismissed on the grounds that the girl never attended school in the Central District. But Thomas Feinman, a State Supreme Court judge in Mineola, ruled against the Central District’s dismissal motion in May, saying that the district is responsible for the behavior of its students, even when they allegedly bully students outside the district. At the time of the alleged incidents, the girl attended a private school. 

Feinman did, however, dismiss the family’s claims of negligence, defamation, civil rights violations and punitive damages. 

The Central District superintendent, John DeTommaso, who became superintendent last July, after the alleged incidents, declined to comment because the case is under litigation. He and Pratt were originally named in the lawsuit, but Feinman removed their names from it.

The girl’s family also declined to comment.


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