Lawsuit: Newport-Mesa School Allowed Sexual Orientation Bullying Of 5th Grader

Categories: Court, School Daze

A complaint by the mother of a 2011, fifth-grade student at Newport Heights Elementary School that her daughter was "bullied" and forced to endure a "hostile," anti-gay environment tolerated by administrators has landed inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.

The lawsuit filed by "Jane Doe," the alleged victim's mother who wishes to keep her identity hidden, portrays the life of her daughter, "Mary Doe," as unbearable at the school because students and teachers openly discriminated against the child and forced her to change schools.

"Despite the fact that plaintiff Mary Doe was being harassed by both fellow students and school staff, school and district employees failed to take proper action in order to protect plaintiff from a hostile environment," alleges the lawsuit now inside U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna's Santa Ana courtroom. "Having no other recourse, plaintiffs were forced to bring this suit in order to seek declaratory, injunctive, or monetary relief from the district, district employees and officials for depriving them of established constitutional rights based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, sex and sex stereotyping."

The lawsuit asserts that the bullying began when the fifth grader complained that her teacher was bringing her toddler-age child to class.

Those complaints sparked "retaliation," according to Alex L. Benedict, the Huntington Beach-based plaintiff's attorney who says school administrators acted with "deliberate indifference" but "had a duty to provide and ensure an educational environment for [the alleged victim] and other students, free of sexual innuendo, intimidation and discriminatory animus, and to enforce the rules, regulations and laws necessary to protect them from acts of sexual harassment."

In addition to seeking monetary damages, the plaintiffs seek a court order to force school district officials to ban future discrimination practices and to launch diversity training.

Lawyers at Lynberg & Watkins, an Orange-based firm that specializes in representing government entities and is handling the defense in this case, filed a motion to dismiss that essentially characterizes the complaint as wild nonsense unsupported by a single fact and notes that the mother did not witness any alleged discrimination firsthand.

Selna scheduled an April 21 session to hear arguments.

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