Judge moves WJCC bullying case closer to trial

A civil suit against the Williamsburg-James City County School Board was moved forward by Williamsburg-James City County General District Court Judge Colleen Killilea on Monday. 

During the afternoon hearing, Killilea granted the school division attorney Jeremy Capps’ request for a motion hearing before the trial but she also scheduled a trial date.

“If motions are overruled, which I'm not saying they will be, we will go to trial,” Killilea said.

It's the second time this year John and Sandra Magda have sued the School Board for $25,000 in damages related to their daughter's bullying.

“We’re excitedly happy that the judge is listening,” John Magda said after the hearing. “Based on what we found there was a failure of duty against their own Student Code of Conduct, which put my child in an unsafe condition.”

The first case was dismissed by Judge Killilea April 24 for a lack of standing because the Magdas filed the original suit in their names instead of their daughter, Emma's. 

Since Emma was the one they said was bullied, she had to be named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, Killilea said at the April hearing. The family refiled the case May 12 with the correct name. 

They are suing for “medical and therapy costs, past and future, all due to school bullying and failure of duty in keeping minor child safe while attending school at Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School,” according to court documents.

The Magdas claim the School Board and school division did not adhere to the Student Code of Conduct after Emma was bullied by another student at Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School in 2015. They detailed that year’s events in a Bill of Particulars filed with the court March 27 as part of the first suit.

Killilea saw the Magdas — including Emma — in court Monday alongside W-JCC’s attorney Jeremy Capps for their first hearing in the new case. Killilea told the Magdas Emma didn’t need to be in the courtroom and sent her outside during the hearing.

Sandra Magda said Emma would still be a part of the trial going forward and would take the stand if the case makes it to the trial date scheduled for late October.

Killilea told the Magdas they have until July 5 to create another Bill of Particulars detailing their allegations and the School Board has another two weeks to file their rebuttal to those claims.

“I anticipate filing a motion to dismiss as I did the last time,” Capps said.

The motions hearing, which is as far as the case went last time, is set for 3 p.m. Sept. 18. Killilea made clear in her April 24 decision that the case was only dismissed because of the naming issue, not for any of the other reasons the school division gave.

“WJCC has a student code of conduct for a reason,” Sandra Magda said after the hearing Monday.

Standing nearby, Emma replied: “They wrote them, they should follow them.”

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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