By Bob Weaver 8/31/2017

A Calhoun County mother and her minor son alleges that a school board and principal failed to stop student bullying.

Parent Melissa Starcher filed a complaint July 27 in Calhoun Circuit Court against Calhoun County Board of Education and Calhoun County Middle/High School Principal Melanie B. Arthur alleging negligence and other counts.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the student was a victim of "consistent and repeated acts of harassment, intimidation, bullying and sexual assault" from several students while attending Calhoun County Middle/High School.

The abuse was "from a core group of around six students, involving dozens of incidents of bullying."

The plaintiffs allege that it is their belief that the bullying students have not been disciplined.

Calhoun Superintendent of Schools Kelli Whytsell said, "Calhoun County Schools does not tolerate any form of discrimination, bullying, or harassment against any students. The school has a procedure for reporting all behavior incidents."

Whytsell said she could not respond to a specific lawsuit filed against the system.

Attorney Kevin S. Kaufman, Esq. said, "The actual incidents will be explored in more detail as the parties conduct discovery in the lawsuit. Our focus is more on the pattern of abuse, and the systematic failures of the board of education and the school's administrators to stop it, than on reciting the particulars of each incident."

"The school board was given multiple opportunities to correct the situation before litigation began, and failed to do so," said Kaufman.

Superintendent Whytsell said, "Calhoun County Schools has a zero tolerance for bullying/intimidation/harassment... school faculty have been trained to identify and stop bullying and monitor all areas of the school."

"In 2016-17 eleven students were disciplined in our West Virginia Education Information System and in 2015-16 sixteen students were disciplined," related to bullying and harassment in Calhoun Schools, Whytsell said.

The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seeks compensatory and punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney's fees and such other fair and just relief. They are represented by Kevin S. Kaufman of Kaufman & McPherson PLLC in Bridgeport.

In spite of its relatively high ranking for both anti-bullying policies and laws, West Virginia was ranked third overall in bullying problems, according to a WalletHub survey in 2015.

Calhoun Circuit Court case number 17-C-15 e

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