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Helmut Schmidt, Published December 15 2010

Fargo reaches tentative agreement with former student claiming to be subject of bullying

The Fargo School District has reached a tentative out-of-court agreement with a former student over allegations that the student had been repeatedly bullied by classmates.

Tiffany Johnson, the attorney for the School District, said today that a tentative agreement was reached in mediation for the the Cass County District Court. However, she said there are still details to be hammered out, and that no details will be shared untl the terms have been finalized.

She did say that no money has been paid in the case yet.

The lawsuit claimed that the bullying of the unnamed student, now 21, was so common that it was the subject of a Fargo South High senior skit three years after the student had transferred to Fargo’s Shanley High School, which is in the Catholic schools network.

The student did, however, eventually graduate from Fargo public schools, Johnson said.

"It's a very unfortunate situation and you can't help but feel badly for the student and the things that occured," Fargo schools Superintendent Rick Buresh said.

Buresh said the school district has a team of parents and staff studying and working on ways to deal with bullying, whether in the halls, the playground or online.

"It's a vexing issue," he said.

A final pre-trial conference in the case was held Nov. 18, court records show. A civil trial that had been scheduled for next summer was cancelled.

Court filings contend the harassment began when the plaintiff was in the fourth grade and continued until his transfer to Shanley. The lawsuit claimed the tormenting was physical at times, with the students on many occasions given black eyes and swollen lips by classmates,

His attorney, Pat Monson, told The Forum that the young man still suffers the emotional effects of the abuse and may be on antidepressants for life.

The lawsuit accused the School District of not properly responding to repeated complaints about the bullying and not doing enough to punish the perpetrators. It sought unspecified damages in excess of $50,000.