Pasco schools want to stop gay-baiting - WRBL

Pasco schools want to stop gay-baiting

Posted: Updated:
Zachery Gray, before his suicide attempt Zachery Gray, before his suicide attempt
PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The Pasco County School Board is scheduled approve an agreement with the Federal Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Tuesday that's intended to stop bullying on the basis of sexual orientation.

In other words, there will now be strict sanctions and preventive measures in place against gay-baiting in Pasco County schools if board members agree with staff recommendations.

"It's tough," said Attorney Robin Allweiss. "It's a tough, tough agreement."

Allweiss should know. The proposal is the result of a civil rights complaint she filed against the Pasco school district a year ago on behalf of the parents of  bully victim Zachery Gray who tried to kill himself.

"It is sad, but I think in their hearts--and I think they made it clear--is they want to make a difference for other children," said Allweiss.

The nine-page resolution stems from a yearlong investigation prompted by the Gray family's complaint that educators at Zephyrhills High School had ignored their son's torment by bullies. 

"This is just the beginning of a response to OCR [Office of Civil Rights] issues," said Ray Gadd, Assistant Superintendent of Pasco Schools. "There will be much more to come as it relates to bullying and how we deal with it in our school system."

Gray had a girlfriend, who also attended Zephyrhills High School, and his parents say he is not gay, but they say that didn't stop school bullies from harassing him with insults about his sexual orientation day after day.

Gray hanged himself at home on May 18, 2011 and survived, but now has permanent brain damage. He requires around-the-clock nursing care.

Gray's parents say teachers and administrators at Zephyrhills High School did nothing to stop the abuses heaped on their son, even though they knew it was happening. 

A brief investigation by the school district revealed that Gray complained to one of his teachers about the abuse, and she told him to ignore it. The teacher did not take other actions that state law requires when students report bully behavior, such as telling parents about the abuse.

The proposed resolution is the result of months of negotiations between Pasco school district lawyers and the Office of Civil Rights. It makes no finding of fault, but mandates a list of actions intended to head off "sex-based harassment", and specifies procedures to deal with complaints when they arise.

There is required training for staff and improved complaint procedures.

Under the resolution, the district agreed to hire retired sociologist H. Roy Kaplan as a consultant, to help schools comply with the terms of the agreement.

Robin Allweiss, an attorney representing Zachery Gray's family, applauded the comprehensive agreement, and said she and his parents will attend Tuesday's Pasco School Board meeting when the resolution comes up for approval.

The Gray family still has pending litigation against the district, stemming from Gray's alleged abuse at Zephyrhills High School and the injuries he suffered in his attempted suicide.

Last year, voters elected Kurt Browning to replace Pasco School Superintendent Heather Fiorentino.  Browning has taken a hard line against bullying in schools since he assumed leadership of the district.

Zachery Gray's father takes some comfort in that.

"He's going the right direction," said Tony Gray.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Magic diet pill promoter found running new business in Tampa

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-09-02 21:02:23 GMT
    File Photo: Nick CongletonFile Photo: Nick Congleton
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
    Nick Congleton is in hot water with the FTC for selling "magic diet pills," and under investigation by Florida's Attorney General for a defunct travel club that owes hundreds of consumers for vacations they never received.Now, he's keeping a low profile and running a new business out of an unmarkedwarehouse in the Channelside District, where he didn't have much to say to Eight On Your Side this morning.
  • Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Home Depot probing 'Unusual Activity' after reports of data breach

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:55 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:55:41 GMT
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breachHome Depot may be the latest retailer to suffer a massive credit card breach
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
    Home Depot may be the latest retailer to have suffered a massive credit card breach, the company confirmed on Tuesday, after Krebs on Security reported that a large cache of stolen data had appeared on black market sites.
  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:45 AM EDT2014-09-02 12:45:21 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Suspect who ran over Palm Harbor security guard to turn himself in says attorney

    Suspect who ran over Palm Harbor security guard to turn himself in says attorney

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 8:08 PM EDT2014-09-03 00:08:09 GMT
    The suspect was involved in an altercation inside the establishment just before 3 am Friday.The suspect was involved in an altercation inside the establishment just before 3 am Friday.
    The man who investigators say intentionally ran over a security guard at a Palm Harbor nightclub early Friday morning will turn himself in on Wednesday according to his attorney, Barry Cohen.
    The man who investigators say intentionally ran over a security guard at a Palm Harbor nightclub early Friday morning will turn himself in on Wednesday according to his attorney, Barry Cohen.
  • Online business complaint lands Sarasota woman and BBB in lawsuit

    Online business complaint lands Sarasota woman and BBB in lawsuit

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:46 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:46:44 GMT
    Can you be sued over your online complaint about a company? That's what happened to Sarah Kessler, of Sarasota.
    Can you be sued over your online complaint about a company? That's what happened to Sarah Kessler, of Sarasota.
  • Is your data safe in Apple’s iCloud?

    Is your data safe in Apple’s iCloud?

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:04 PM EDT2014-09-02 22:04:56 GMT
    Hackers gained access to celebrities private pictures including nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence. Apple says it has fixed a security flaw but cybersecurity experts say anyone can become a victim.“Anybody can get hacked.
    Hackers gained access to celebrities private pictures including nude photos of actress Jennifer Lawrence. Apple says it has fixed a security flaw but cybersecurity experts say anyone can become a victim.“Anybody can get hacked.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.