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Suit claims FWCS, school did nothing to stop bullying

– The parents of a Forest Park Elementary School student has sued the school and Fort Wayne Community Schools, alleging their son was bullied while attending the north-side school.

Filed Monday in Allen Superior Court by Chris and Jessica Shanyfelt, the lawsuit also names a Forest Park physical education teacher, Larry Shelton, as well as four children, whose parents’ names are “unknown,” as defendants.

In the lawsuit, the Shanyfelts claim their 9-year-old son, while a student at Forest Park, was subject to verbal and physical bullying.

They also accuse Shelton of dragging the boy down an alleyway by his arm. The lawsuit said the bullying and abuse began in August 2011 and continued until June. The parents allege the district, in spite of repeated complaints, failed to do anything to deal with the bullying.

The lawsuit accused the district of negligence and negligent supervision of students and staff, negligent retention of Shelton, false imprisonment by causing their son to feel powerless or escape “the vicious cycle of bullying,” battery, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, bullying, and loss of companionship.

The allegation of loss of companionship alleges that, because the parents had to move their son to a different elementary school, they lost time with their son, needing to drive extra miles.

While the lawsuit does not specify an amount of damages sought by the parents on behalf of their son, a tort claim filed with the district asks for $300,000 because “total damages … are unknown due to the fact that the (plaintiff) is still undergoing counseling.”

Through its spokeswoman, FWCS officials declined to comment on the lawsuit because it is still pending.

Shelton retired from teaching in September. According to documents provided by FWCS, he was suspended for nearly a month in December 2011 and January 2012 for violating the district’s policy and placing his hand on a student.

The discipline stemmed from the incident alleged in the lawsuit, according to the documents provided by FWCS.

Efforts to reach Shelton for comment were unsuccessful.

rgreen@jg.net

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