Pasco School Board approves anti-harassment policy - WNCN: News, Weather

Pasco School Board approves anti-harassment policy

Posted: Updated:
Zachery Gray can smile on a good day in the nursing home where he needs constant care for brain damage after his attempted suicide Zachery Gray can smile on a good day in the nursing home where he needs constant care for brain damage after his attempted suicide
ZEPHYRHILLS, FL (WFLA) -

With little fanfare and no discussion the Pasco School Board today approved sweeping reforms in its anti-harassment policies prompted by the attempted suicide of ZephyrHills High School Zachery Gray two years ago.

In an Eight On Your Side investigation Gray's parents complained that educators did nothing to stop students at ZephyrHills H. S. from tormenting their son by calling him fat and labeling him as gay even though he had a girlfriend at the time.

The district denied any responsibility after an investigation in which they interviewed only one teacher. The Grays later complained to the U.S. Department of Education which launched a civil rights investigation.

The DOE recently agreed to settle the case without formal findings of fault if the district put in place wide ranging reforms intended to prevent harassment on the basis of gender or sexual orientation and a mechanism to deal with it when it occurs.

"My son is where he's at because of that,"said Zachary's father Tony."If more kids don't wind up in that situation, it'd be great."

Before Tuesday's vote during the consent agenda, Superintendent Kurt Browning told the board, "Bullying and the perception of bullying is an issue in the Pasco School District and this resolution goes a long way specifically to address the bullying issue not only at ZephyrHills High School but through out our school district."

Still, Zachery's parents remain suspicious after their treatment by the former district superintendent and administrators who insisted there wasn't a bully problem that contributed to Zachery's suicide attempt.

"They say they're gonna do it," said Gray's mother Lynn. "But the laws were there before and they didn't do it."

Later, when informed of their skepticism, Browning said the policy change was more than lip service to settle the DOE investigation.

"It's for real," said Browning. "We have for the longest time--too long--taken the bullying issue and kinda put it on the back shelf and kind  of buried our head in the sand and said we don't have a bullying issue."

Browning was not Pasco County's elected Superintendent of Schools two years ago when Gray attempted suicide, but he has seen other cases of bullying and suicide involving students unfold since his election last fall.

His district staff is planning a community forum to address the issue June 27th at Wesley Chapel High School.

"I have said repeatedly that bulling is a community issue not necessarily a school issue," said Browning. "However it manifests itself in our schools."

The Grays' attorney Robin Allweiss put the school district on notice they plan to sue for damages in connection with their son's alleged bullying and attempted suicide.

The Grays say they also plan to keep the pressure on in other ways to prevent more Pasco students from suffering the same fate as their son.

"We can't save our kid any more. What's done is done," said Zachery Gray's mother Lynn.

"But we can save yours and if we can save yours or your niece or grandchild then that's what we're doing, that's what we're fighting for."

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:15:59 GMT
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
  • Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:01:38 GMT
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
  • Apple recalls iPhones for battery trouble

    Apple recalls iPhones for battery trouble

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 8:16 AM EDT2014-08-26 12:16:28 GMT
    Noticed your iPhone's battery life getting shorter? You may be eligible for a free replacement.
    Noticed your iPhone's battery life getting shorter? You may be eligible for a free replacement.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Duke Energy to announce changes

    Duke Energy to announce changes

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:02 AM EDT2014-08-27 09:02:58 GMT
    Jolted by customers fed up with Duke's rollout of a plan to avoid duplicating meter reader routes, it appears the utility is ready to throw in the towel. Wednesday morning, we expect the company to announce changes that could include bill credits.
    Jolted by customers fed up with Duke's rollout of a plan to avoid duplicating meter reader routes, it appears the utility is ready to throw in the towel. Wednesday morning, we expect the company to announce changes that could include bill credits.
  • School officials to explain new Florida Standards

    School officials to explain new Florida Standards

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 4:29 AM EDT2014-08-27 08:29:09 GMT
    The majority of state's now use Common Core, a learning system that demands the same basics for every student. This school year, Florida is rolling out it's own tweaked version called the Florida Standards.
    The majority of state's now use Common Core, a learning system that demands the same basics for every student. This school year, Florida is rolling out it's own tweaked version called the Florida Standards.
  • Pasco deputy hits family car

    Pasco deputy hits family car

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 4:12 AM EDT2014-08-27 08:12:00 GMT
    A Pasco County Sheriff's deputy was on her way to a burglary call when she hit a family car with four people inside, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
    A Pasco County Sheriff's deputy was on her way to a burglary call when she hit a family car with four people inside, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.