N.J. District to Pay Student Paralyzed in Bullying Incident $4.2M

Courtney Williams's picture
Thursday, April 19, 2012

A New Jersey school district has agreed to pay $4.2 million to settle a lawsuit by a middle school student who was paralyzed when a known bully punched him in the abdomen.

The settlement between the Ramsey school district and the family of Sawyer Rosenstein, who had complained to the district about being bullied, was worked out over the past two months but not made public until last week.

The family's lawsuit alleged school officials knew or should have known the boy's attacker had violent tendencies and failed to comply with a state anti-bullying law, said the Rosensteins' attorney, Jeffrey Youngman. The boy had punched another student in the face on a school bus a year earlier, but the school kept no record of it or other attacks and the attacker was not subjected to escalating discipline, the suit said.

Just three months before being punched, Rosenstein, then 12, emailed school officials to report he was being bullied and to ask for help.

"I would like to let you know that the bullying has increased," he wrote to his guidance counselor at the Eric Smith Middle School. "I would like to figure out some coping mechanisms to deal with these situations, and I would just like to put this on file so if something happens again, we can show that there was past bullying situations."

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