Asher Brown’s Mother Files Civil Rights Lawsuit Against School District
Posted By The Carlson Law Firm || 3-Jun-2011
The mother of a Houston teenager who took his own life last year has filed a federal lawsuit against the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, alleging that authorities violated the boy’s civil rights by failing to prevent bullying. Asher Brown, 13, killed himself with his stepfather’s pistol after returning early from school on September 23, 2010.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, names the president of the school board, the school district superintendent, and the principal and assistant principal of Hamilton Middle School as defendants. Plaintiff Amy Truong, Asher’s mother, alleges that the district and school has a practice of failing to punish bullying and abuse of students by teachers and other students, “even after receiving multiple complaints by the student themselves, their classmates, their parents and even other staff members.”
Media speculation has focused on the boy’s admission to his parents that he was gay as well as his Buddhist religion as the primary reasons behind the frequent harassment he received in school. The complaint alleges that the school district destroyed and withheld evidence of harassment and bullying, including incident reports filed by Asher as well as documentation of phone and email communications from his parents.
The complaint seeks unspecified damages for wrongful death, violations of the Texas Family Code and relief under various federal laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. But most notably, Ms. Truong is seeking to compel the school district to adopt policies, procedures and best practices to reduce bullying and harassment of students. This would include a victims’ rights policy called “Asher’s Rule” that allows student victims of crime to confidentially report abuse, assault and bullying.