Saturday, October 11, 2008

Court says Poway Unified School District has to protect gay students

Here's a post from San Diego Education Report:

Attorney Jeffery Morris of Stutz, Artiano Shinoff & Holtz doesn't like the 70-page decision issued by California's 4th District Court of Appeal upholding the $300,000 jury award won by Joseph "Joey" Ramelli and Megan Donovan three years ago.

The North County Times reports that the students "sued the school district for "deliberate indifference" to harassment, which for Ramelli included getting beaten up and having his car vandalized.

"'I am blown away," Ramelli, 22, said in a phone call from his Santa Cruz home Friday. "For the first time in seven years, I can breathe easy. All the pain, sleepless nights, the time in court ---- it was all worth it...This has nothing to do with money. This has to do with protections for kids...'

"Ramelli said the situation was so bad, he had little choice but to turn to home-schooling. Donovan, who also received threats of violence, also opted for home-schooling.

"...The three-judge panel unanimously found that the jury had enough evidence to conclude that Poway school officials showed "deliberate indifference" when the two students complained about the harassment."


Apparently not.

Attorney Jeffery Morris said he and the district are "disappointed" with the results.

Perhaps he's not satisfied with the billable hours that he's racked up for arguing that the school isn't responsible for what happens to kids.

It's hard to know how much he and his law firm collected from taxpayers. The San Diego County Office of Education--Joint Powers Authority is not forthcoming with public records showing how much the firm is paid. Director Diane Crosier thinks the California Public Records Act gives her arbitrary authority to hide Stutz law firm bills.

In addition, thanks to PUHSD'S decision to appeal, taxpayers must now pay more than $420,000 for the students' attorney fees. My guess that this amount is considerably less than what the district paid to its own lawyers, BUT THE DISTRICT SHOULD HAVE APOLOGIZED INSTEAD OF APPEALING, saving around a million taxpayer dollars.

Attorney Jeffery Morris defends the district, saying that the school has been "very aggressive" in training employees to address harassment."

Oh, yes? My guess is that Mr. Morris went to Poway and passed out the same "BULLY BOOKLET" that Dan Shinoff passed out in Vista
Unified School District.