On the heels of a lawsuit claiming that a boy suffered brain damage from a bully’s assault on the Playa Vista-adjacent Ánimo Westside Charter Middle School campus, the family of a 13-year-old girl is now suing Ánimo and operator Green Dot Public Schools for allegedly failing to intervene in a yearlong bullying campaign that pushed her to attempt suicide.
Both students are represented by attorney Ben Meiselas of the prominent law firm Geragos & Geragos.
Green Dot Public Schools, which has received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, issued a statement that the organization has yet to be served with or contacted about either legal complaint.
“We take seriously the safety of all our students and quickly address bullying of any kind on our campuses,” the statement reads in part. “Any and all instances or issues are immediately investigated, per the procedures in our anti-harassment, -intimidation and -bullying policy that is part of the school’s student policy manual.”
The girl’s complaint states that she was “a victim of severe and vicious bullying, verbal harassment and physical assault, which defendants knew about and permitted to take place,” and that school officials took no action even after the girl and her mother asked for help. The bullies apparently targeted her for being overweight.
The lawsuit specifically calls out an alleged physical assault and verbal taunting incident on March 15 outside the school, and that video footage of the bully’s taunts surfaced shortly after the incident. Later the girl “experienced a psychotic breakdown and planned to commit suicide,” according to the complaint, and was diagnosed with suicidal ideation, social anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder and severe depression after an emergency room visit.
Video footage of a bully attacking the boy who suffered brain damage show a staff member walking past the hallway scuffle without intervening.
“This paints a picture of systematic bullying,” Meiselas said.
— Gary Walker