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Student and parents file complaint about 'relentless' bullying at school

Posted at 4:05 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2021-12-26 15:17:27-05

JOHNSON COUNTY — A Greenwood mother has filed a formal complaint with the Indiana Department of Education to stop what she calls “relentless, nonstop” bullying against her 13-year old daughter.

Chloe Riggs, a student at Clark Pleasant Middle School, and her parents Teresa and Jesse Riggs filed the 11-page complaint Dec. 2 against the Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation.

“It’s completely out of control,” Chloe's mother, Teresa Riggs, said. “It’s awful, it’s absolutely horrible.”

Chloe suffers from anxiety, depression and panic attacks as a result of five years of bullying at school and on the bus, including students calling her a "fat, stupid, bitch."

Students have repeatedly told her to kill herself, according to the complaint.

“In one instance a peer told her to jump in front of a car and die,” read the complaint. “It has led to hopelessness, despair, chronic sadness, loss of appetite, isolation and withdrawal.”

Chloe has been hospitalized several times for cutting herself and suicidal thoughts.

In fall 2019, two girls told Chloe to “go slit your wrists and finish the job you started,” read the complaint.

Teresa said she reached out to school leaders for help and the parents of the bullies, but nothing has helped stop the bullying.

“I get nothing,” Teresa said. “It’s completely shocking that no one actually cares. To hear your kid say they have nothing left to live for, it is awful.”

The Riggs’ family attorney Tom Blessing said the school district has failed to take reasonable measures to address the bullying and the perpetrators are still in school.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Blessing said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a case where there’s been this long of history of this type of behavior happening at a school with a particular student.

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Blessing said the district violated the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, which requires schools to identify, locate, and evaluate children suspected of having a disability.

"Clearly, Chloe is such a student, but it has never done that,” Blessing said. “They should have had a school psychologist test her to find out what's going on. The school has failed to find Chloe eligible for special education when all the evidence has been staring them in the face for five years.”

Chloe is failing her classes and is missing her assignments due to her bullying and special needs, and said the district needs to help students with special needs.

“If the child doesn’t get help from the school, the child is going to fail,” Blessing said. The goal is to identify the kids as early as possible so they can get the help they need, whether it’s accommodations on testing, small groups, preferential seating, extended time to take a test, or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).”

RTV6 reached out to Dr. Patrick Spray, superintendent of Clark Pleasant Community Schools.

“It is our practice to not comment on pending legal matters or regarding specific students, circumstances, or other records protected by FERPA,” Spray said in an email to RTV6. “The safety and well-being of all of our students is of utmost importance in the Clark-Pleasant Community Schools. Our caring staff continues to work collaboratively with families to ensure a safe learning environment in all of our schools.”

Chloe’s mom said several family members have died by suicide and she doesn’t want her daughter to be next.

Moving away is not an option, said Teresa.

“It says you absolutely give up and I don’t want my kid to think it’s ok to give up because then I am left burying my child, and I don’t want to see that happen,” Teresa said. “I don’t want to see someone else’s kid say I’m going to give up too.”

The family has requested IDOE appoint an independent hearing officer to review the case.