Officials on Wednesday announced a settlement between the Blue Springs School District and the parents of a student who committed suicide in 2007 after allegedly being a target of chronic bullying.
Brandon Myers, who was 12, hanged himself in his home on Feb. 22, 2007.
In the lawsuit, Brandon’s parents, Kimberly and Randy Myers, alleged that their son over several years had been the victim of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of fellow Blue Springs district students, and that the district had been negligent in its training and supervision of employees in regard to bullying.
Brandon, born with a cleft palate, underwent several surgeries to correct the condition, according to a statement Wednesday by Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, the Independence law firm that represented the Myers family.
Students bullied Brandon at both John Nowlin and Voy Spears Jr. elementary schools, his parents alleged. On one occasion, they claimed, students held Brandon down and stuffed grass into his surgically repaired lip.
Financial terms were not disclosed. District officials were unavailable for comment.
The district has agreed to institute an annual bullying awareness day.
The settlement also mandated that the parent of one student write a letter of apology to Kimberly and Randy Myers, according to the statement. The lawsuit had alleged that parent condoned and encouraged his son’s bullying behavior and, about two weeks before Brandon’s suicide, drove to Brandon’s home and participated in vandalism there.
Also, the settlement directs that two district administrators undergo additional off-site bullying awareness training, said Daniel Thomas, an attorney with Humphrey, Farrington & McClain.
“The significance of this case is that most of the bullying-suicide lawsuits don’t make it through all the procedural loopholes to take it to trial,” Thomas said Wednesday. “We were able to take this case all the way to the doorstep of the courthouse and really effect some changes.”
A trial had been scheduled to begin Sept. 17 in U.S. District Court. But the parties agreed on the settlement on Sept. 14, and a federal court judge approved it on Wednesday.