February 14, 2013

ICSD Settles Racial Harassment Case

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The Ithaca City School District Board of Directors voted Tuesday to settle a claim of racial bullying from nearly eight years ago, approving a $200,000 settlement for the victim. “We think now is the time to bring this matter to a close,” Robert Ainslie, president of the ICSD Board of Education, said in a press release. ICSD will pay $75,000 of the settlement, with the remaining $125,000 to be paid by ICSD’s insurance carrier, according to the press release.In 2005, then-Ithaca resident Amelia Kearney’s 12-year-old daughter reported that she was physically and emotionally abused by fellow DeWitt Middle School students on a school bus. Kearney said a group of white students leveled racial slurs at her daughter, who is black. They also punched her and threatened her life, The Sun reported in October 2007. Kearney sued the school district in 2006, saying that ICSD’s response was not effective in protecting her daughter from the alleged bullying. In 2009, the New York State Division of Human Rights awarded Kearney $200,000. The district appealed the decision, and in 2011 the New York Court of Appeals ruled that the NYSDHR lacked jurisdiction to rule on claims made by students against public school districts, according to a district press release. After the Court of Appeals decision, Kearney notified the school district that she would file the charges in federal court. However, a settlement was negotiated instead, according to the press release.

Original Author: Emma Court