Couple files allegations in second civil suit against W-JCC Schools

A James City County family has modified a few of their allegations in their second round suing the Williamsburg-James City County School Board.

John and Sandra Magda feel Clara Byrd Baker Elementary School teachers and staff responded poorly — and illegally — to their daughter’s claims of being bullied during the spring of 2015, according to Williamsburg-James City Count General District Court documents filed by the family.

It’s the second time the family is suing the schools for $25,000 related to their daughter Emma’s bullying. The first case was dismissed because it wasn’t in their daughter's name, who was 8 at the time of the alleged incidents.

They filed the new bill of particulars, a document justifying why the division owes them money, with the court Wednesday.

The Magdas said the $25,000 claim is derived from medical costs Emma has incurred due to a weekly $165 counseling visit and prescriptions for “anxiety, acute depression, and school phobia due to school bullying,” according to court documents.

“We feel all the above situations declare a gross negligence. The inaction at many levels proves a gross negligence,” the document states. “We feel that WJCC failed to comply based on the lack of reporting and documentation regarding Emma’s safety, well-being and failure of duty. … We feel that Emma’s harm both physically and mentally was caused as a result of the WJCC inactions.”

The couple claims teachers and administrators at Clara Byrd Baker and in the division failed to correctly report Emma’s bullying to the other child’s parents or to law enforcement, according to court documents.

When reached for comment, schools spokeswoman Betsy Overkamp-Smith and School Board Chairwoman Kyra Cook (Williamsburg) both said they do not comment on pending litigation.

The new document added specific references to Virginia’s legal code and dropped all allegations regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, two federal laws the county court doesn't have jurisdiction over.

The suit claims Emma was verbally harassed from February 2015 through May 2015 when the Magdas say another child “physically assaulted” her, according to court documents.

They allege the division did not report the assault to law enforcement or the other student’s parents, which they say goes against the division’s code of conduct and Virginia’s legal code, according to court documents.

“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,” John Magda said after a court hearing June 19.

At that hearing, general district court judge Colleen Killilea moved the case forward, scheduling a motion hearing Sept. 18 and a trial date Oct. 24.

School division officials have until July 19 to provide a Grounds of Defense, which is their response to the allegations, according to court records.

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

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