An Ohio school district has agreed to pay a $35,000 financial settlement and improve its antibullying policies in the wake of an assault on a gay student.
The Union-Scioto school board approved the agreement last night to settle a complaint brought by Zach King, whose beating by another student in a Unioto High School classroom last October was captured on video that was then posted on the Internet.
The board agreed that the school district’s insurer will pay $20,000 in damages to King and his family, reimburse up to $10,000 worth of medical and counseling expenses, and pay $5,000 in legal fees to the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which represented the family, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
School officials admitted no wrongdoing but “agreed to develop ‘acceptable policies to address the alleged intolerant behavior ... against LGBT students,’ create an effective complaint program and train staff on ‘cultural understanding’ of harassment of LGBT pupils,” the Dispatch notes. King’s mother, Rebecca Collins, had claimed the school “fostered an atmosphere” that encouraged bullying of LGBT students.
“We hope similarly situated students don’t have to go through what Zach went through,” ACLU of Ohio legal director James Hardiman told the paper. “The school district has made a commitment to try to avoid incidents like this in the future.”
King was known as Zach Huston and was a 15-year-old freshman at the time of the assault. Another 15-year-old student, Levi Sever, pleaded guilty to the attack and was sentenced to 90 days in juvenile detention.
Read The Advocate’s interview with Zach and his mother here.