The news is filled with tragic tales of teenagers bullied by classmates to the point where they develop severe psychological problems or even take their own lives. But in one South Carolina school, the bully wasn’t another student, but a teenage boy’s math teacher.
The teacher’s taunting of the teenager as “gay,” “gay boy” and other names became so bad, the boy attempted suicide, though fortunately survived. That is the allegation in a lawsuit filed in Charleston County courts last month, but revealed last week.
The lawsuit, filed by the mother of a child identified only as “John Doe” to protect his privacy, charges that the Charleston County School District failed to prevent the math teacher at West Ashley High School from relentlessly ridiculing the boy in front of classmates, and encouraged other students to bully the boy as well.
The suit seeks damages for the school’s “gross negligence.”
While the teacher, Alan Ingram, is not a named defendant in the lawsuit, the court filings single him out as the bully.
“Ingram repeatedly told plaintiff’s classmates that plaintiff was in a homosexual relationship with another male classmate and that they were ‘boyfriend and girlfriend,’” the suit alleges. “Further, Ingram encouraged and asked other students in class to pick on plaintiff as well and similarly belittle him during classes.”
The student, now 16 years old, felt helpless to do anything about this daily humiliation because his teacher held power over him due to his position of authority. The boy “was made to feel that he could not report this to the school administration,” says the suit.
As a result, the boy developed such “emotional distress” that he became physically sick. Ultimately, he attempted suicide by hanging himself, says the suit. But the boy lived and is now being home-schooled as he goes through mental health counseling.
A school district spokesperson told a local TV news station that Ingram was still employed at the school. The school district Friday issued a statement declining comment.
Earlier this year, a different teacher as West Ashley High School was charged with sexual battery after an investigation into a sexual relationship between the teacher and a student.
SOURCES: Courthouse News, ABC News 4 Charleston (2), Live 5 WCSC