A Murray County, Ga., parent who has gained national attention after speaking out on her son's suicide said she feels vindicated even though a federal judge on Monday dismissed her lawsuit against a school district.
David and Tina Long filed the lawsuit in 2010 against Murray County Schools and high school Principal Gina Linder, claiming their son, Tyler, killed himself after relentless school bullying. But U.S. District Judge Harold Murphey granted summary judgment to the school district, writing there wasn't enough evidence to prove officials showed deliberate indifference.
But he also wrote: "There is little question that Tyler was the victim of severe disability harassment, and that defendants should have done more to stop the harassment and prevent future incidents."
Tina Long said even though she is angry the school district won't be held accountable, she feels justified with the judge's response.
"We do feel vindicated in the fact that what we've been saying the judge confirmed," she said. "He did what he could under the law ... and that's why [the law] needs to be changed."
School officials couldn't be reached. But officials said in previous interviews that the school wasn't to blame because the suicide took place at home.
The Longs filed the suit after their 17-year-old son hanged himself on Oct. 17, 2009, accusing officials of ignoring constant bullying at school and on the school bus. Tyler suffered from Asperger's syndrome, a developmental disorder, and had been bullied since middle school, his mother said.
Since the lawsuit was filed, the Longs have spoken out publicly against school bullying and received attention from ABC News in a special on bullying and in a documentary called "Bully," which premiered in Chattanooga in April.
The Longs haven't decided whether they will appeal the judge's decision, but one thing's for sure, David Long said.
"We will take however long it takes to get the laws changed and the word out," he said.
Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6659.
Joy Lukachick is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Since 2009, she's covered breaking news, high-profile trials, stories of lost lives and of regained hope and done investigative work. Raised near the Bayou, Joy’s hometown is along the outskirts of Baton Rouge, La. She has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Joy was a staff writer for the Daily Reveille. When Joy isn't chasing ...