N.H. Supreme Court Rejects Family's Suit Against Manchester School District

Sep 4, 2015

The state’s highest court ruled Friday that the family of a then-12 year-old girl cannot sue the Manchester School District for a bullying incident that happened in 2011.

The girl’s family argued that their daughter, who was in seventh grade, was beaten up in the school cafeteria, but that the school failed to notify them that she was being teased earlier that week.

Under the state’s anti-bullying law and Manchester’s school policy, the school has to notify the parents of a bullying incident within 48 hours. But the five justices unanimously agreed Friday that lawsuits are prohibited under the statue.

B.J. Branch, the family’s attorney, said this decision shows that schools cannot be held accountable for not abiding by the state’s anti-bullying law. “A lot of people got that statue passed and worked hard to get it passed and perhaps they will be re-energized now that it is on the books, fine tune it so that it has a little more enforcement power to it,” Branch said.

The attorney representing the Manchester School District could not be reached for comment but argued in court that the incident did not involve bullying.

This is the first case to reach the Supreme Court level involving the state’s anti-bullying law.