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Feds investigate Birdville district bullying case

HALTOM CITY -- Birdville school district officials must submit documents to a federal civil-rights office in response to allegations of sexual harassment of a student and how the district handled the incident.

It is the second bullying case in the district that the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is investigating.

Christine Jackson said officials with the Civil Rights Office sent her a letter last week, saying they will investigate whether her son was "discriminated on the basis of sex when he was subjected to sexually harassing incidents sufficient to create a hostile environment."

Jackson has said her son, then a seventh-grader at Haltom Middle School, was inappropriately touched and threatened by another student while they were taking a shower at the school after an athletic class.

Jackson first complained to the Birdville school board that campus administrators didn't follow school policy when handling the incident, saying that she should have been notified and that the bully should have been separated from her son. Trustees said campus administrators had done nothing wrong.

"I'm really, really happy that the school district can't ignore these complaints anymore," said Jackson, of Haltom City. "I am glad they are going to be forced to address it."

The case "alleges that a student was sexually harassed and threatened with sexual assault by another student and that the District did not take appropriate actions in response to the incident," Education Department spokesman Jim Bradshaw wrote in an e-mail Wednesday.

Birdville district spokesman Mark Thomas declined to discuss specifics of the federal inquiry.

"The district will provide the requested documents to the Dallas office in a timely manner," Thomas said in an e-mail Tuesday.

The other investigation is based on a federal complaint filed by a parent in April, saying her son was "subjected to multiple episodes of sexual slurs, vulgarity, physical abuse, pornographic material," at Haltom Middle School. Birdville has submitted documents in that case, Thomas said.

A third complaint was filed in late June, by a parent of a North Richland Middle School student who described a January incident in a campus locker room in which four boys attacked her son and gave him a "wedgie." He was treated for injuries in an emergency room, the complaint said.

Civil-rights officials closed that case in August after the family did not provide additional information requested by the agency, Bradshaw said.

Jessamy Brown,

817-390-7326

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