Attorney calls out PHM School District for not addressing bullying
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. - The attorney behind the lawsuit against Penn Harris Madison School Corporation spoke Friday for the first time about the case stemming from a videotaped attack on a student.
Donald Schmid described the incident that happened in Discovery Middle school on April 8th as “tragic.”
He claims the school did nothing to protect the boy despite previous bullying and alleged threats targeting the same student.
“It was bullying at its worst,” Schmid said.
The victim, known as J.R, was attacked by another student in a boys bathroom at the Discovery Middle School back in April and another student recorded in this video that went viral.
According to the lawsuit, J.R suffered a concussion and multiple cuts as well as psychological trauma.
The family is now suing the Penn Harris Madison School Corporation for negligence and invasion of privacy, but also for not keeping their child safe.
“The school district said that safety is first, their first priority. Policies said that bullying would be dealt with immediately, immediately addressed and it hasn’t been,” Schmid said.
He said the school knew about previous bullying incidents and did nothing.
“Discovery Middle School and PHM were on notice prior to that attack on the severe disciplinary problems of the attacking student,” Schmid said.
In fact, 10 days prior to the videotaped beating, Schmid said there was another attack on the same victim in the lunchroom that was allegedly witnessed by the school principal.
“When the earlier attack occurred no protective actions were taken. No notice was given to the victim's parents. No disciplinary actions were taken to that particular threat,” he said.
Schmid accuses the school district of pretending bullying doesn’t exist.
ABC57 News researched the mandatory bullying reports from PHM provided to the state Department of Education.
In 2018, Discovery Middle School had 2 physical, 1 verbal, 2 social/relational and 1 written or cyberbullying incidents for a total of six.
Grissom Middle School reported 3 physical and one 1 verbal case.
But Schmucker Middle School had zero reports of any kind of bullying for the entire year.
“These numbers defy credibility,” Schmid said.
He said several parents are choosing to pull their kids out of PHM because of it.
“Parents, we have learned, have removed their children from Discovery Middle School and other Penn Harris Madison Schools because the bullying was not properly or adequately addressed, that their children suffered,” Schmid said.
The victim in the videotaped bathroom attack has also since changed schools.
The family of the victim is not speaking publicly because of privacy concerns and PHM has been advised not to comment on the lawsuit by its attorneys.
Schmid says the school has not responded to his suit yet either.