Pine Bush, NY – The Pine Bush School District in upstate New York has agreed to pay $4.48 million to settle a 2012 lawsuit that alleged five current and former Jewish students suffered anti-Semitic harassment.
The lawsuit states that school officials failed to take appropriate and timely action to protect the students, reports the New York Times (http://nyti.ms/1Jtr6sg).
The school district – which serves about 5,600 children from Orange, Sullivan and Ulster Counties – has also agreed to reform the school curriculum and to provide training to students and staff on how to recognize anti-Semitic harassment to prevent further bullying. The students will receive two-thirds of the settlement; their lawyers will receive the rest.
The agreement comes two weeks before the case was scheduled to go to trial in the U.S. District Court.
The lawsuit says the anti-Semitic harassment took place across three different schools in the Pine Bush School District and that the students’ suffered failing grades and became depressed because of the harassment.
The students stated they found swastika drawings on walls, desks, lockers and other property; that they were called racial epithets; that they were shoved and beaten; and that they had to endure bus rides while other students led chants about white power and made the Nazi salute.
Pine Bush officials initially fought the suit, stating that they responded appropriately with anti-bullying assemblies and disciplinary action.
In Nov. 2014, Judge Kenneth M. Karas denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit, stating that the school district had knowledge of the harassment of the five plaintiffs, with three of them suffering harassment starting at Pine Bush Elementary School and continuing to Crispell Middle School, and with two of them continuing to undergo harassment at Pine Bush High School.
The school district and plaintiffs posted a statement on the Pine Bush website Monday stating that anti-Semitic harassment is wrong and that the Pine Bush school
district doesn’t condone physical violence or anti-Semitic bullying.