If you have been following the news in Texas and across the country, you know that school bullying has become a serious issue. To be sure, the Huffington Post has reported on numerous bullying lawsuits filed by the parents of school-age kids, and some of those have resulted in costly settlements. But in addition to civil suits, your child could be facing serious criminal penalties. If your child has been accused of bullying, it is important to speak with an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Bullying is taken very seriously in Texas, and an advocate at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC can get started on your case today.
Recent Bullying Cases in North Texas
What kinds of bullying cases have been prominent in the North Texas area? In particular, you might remember a CNN News report on a Cleburne, Texas case in which parents filed a lawsuit against school officials contending that their son’s suicide was the result of intense bullying. In that claim, the parents argued that students and school officials “observed several explicit act of bullying, including [their child] being thrown into a trash can easily a few times a week, but did nothing to stop it.”
Specifically, the parents explained that their son, 13-year-old Jon Carmichael, “was placed upside down in a toilet bowl, and had his head flushed several times, at each occasion.” Just prior to his suicide, the child “was stripped nude, tied up again and placed into a trashcan.” This incident is not the only one that has made news in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. To be sure, a recent article in The Dallas Morning News emphasized that cyberbullying has become a serious issue in local schools. Just last April, a McKinney teenager, Raymond Howell, committed suicide. His family cited cyberbullying as the cause, according to another report from The Dallas Morning News.
Given the shock of Howell’s death to Collin County parents and teens alike, schools in the area are beginning to crack down on bullying. Under Texas law, school districts are required to adopt policies against bullying. And if school officials do not take particular steps, they may be open to a lawsuit. But in addition, the parents of students accused of doing the bullying also may find themselves at the center of a criminal investigation.
Texas Charges and Penalties for Bullying
How is bullying defined in Texas? Under Section 37.0832 of the Texas Education Code, bullying means “engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district” that does one of the following:
- Has or will have the effect of “physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property”; or
- Is “sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.”
If your student has been accused of bullying, it is essential that you understand your child could face criminal penalties and a criminal record. To be sure, you could be dealing with issues that reach far beyond a financial civil lawsuit if another student has accused your son or daughter of bullying. You need an aggressive Collin County criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Rosenthal & Wadas today to learn more about how our McKinney, Texas criminal defense attorneys can assist with your case.