The schools and colleges have the obligation to monitor the students as well as possible behaviors of bullying that take place during school hours. In this sense, parents can demand damages and losses if they demonstrate the carelessness of teachers and school leaders. A recent ruling of the Provincial Court of Barcelona (whose full text can be consulted here), condemns a school to pay four thousand euros to the parents of a girl for not having controlled their attendance at the dining room for a year. Instead, the magistrates reject any responsibility of the center in their eating disorder suffered.
The girl's parents sued the school for his passivity before the supposed harassment suffered by the minor and for not having watched his attendance at the dining room, which, according to them, led to his anorexia. In the lawsuit they claimed the amount of 21,786.39 euros for the damages caused (18,666 euros for patrimonial damages and 3,120 euros for moral damages). The breakdown of the patrimonial damage included 6,190 euros for the three-year dining service and 12,476 euros for the psychologist's bills.
The applicant He claimed that his daughter suffered bullying during most of the years of schooling, that she was isolated and displaced by her classmates, and that the teachers did not notice the problem. As she stated, the girl spent the yard hours sitting alone on a bench. The mother said that she was aware of the harassment when the girl gained weight between 9 and 10 years and increased the harassment, which motivated her to request a change of class.
A year without going down to the dining room
With regard to the control of the attendance of the students to the lunchroom of the center and of the intake of food, the sentence considers sufficiently credited the lack of assistance of the minor for about a year. But nevertheless, it was not proven that the school had delayed in communicating the problem to the family once they had knowledge of it. The family asked for more than six thousand euros for the three years of dining service that they considered the girl stopped attending the dining room.
In fact, several students said that the system to control attendance was not effective, and that the alert had to give one of them.
However, the sentence excluded from responsibility the center of the eating disorder suffered by the girl. The magistrates argued that the minor was not internal and that if her companions had been alarmed by the excessive thinness of the minor, with greater reason should have realized the family, especially with their background.
In consecuense, the court sentenced the center to compensate 4,000 euros to the parents for the patrimonial and moral damages caused When it was demonstrated that the control of assistance to the dining room was ineffective and that the child was a year without going to the dining room.
Without sufficient evidence
As for the alleged school bullying, the judgment of the court considered that the facts that substantiated the claim and acquitted the school had not been proven. The parents appealed and asked for the nullity of the trial because certain evidence was not admitted, such as the declaration of four of her daughter's classmates, and because, in her opinion, the ones that were carried out were not correctly evaluated.
The court refused to annul the first trial, but allowed the companions of the minor's school to testify in the second instance. The girls related a hostile environment and agreed that the relations among the students, in general, "were not respectful and insults abounded". However, in the judgment of the court, this situation did not demonstrate the existence of harassment or bullying against the minor. In this sense, of the three girls, two denied having witnessed acts of harassment and only one of them said that the student had a bad time with the attitude of a classmate. As he related, he could not understand the significance of this situation until years later due to the short age they had then (about ten years).
The magistrates took into account the time elapsed (nine years) to assess this statement and concluded that it could not be established, "beyond a general climate of poor coexistence," that there would be "an act of harassment or exclusion directed particularly against the school " Nor was there, the sentence adds, any documentary evidence of the prolonged harassment reported by the mother of the minor.
During the trial, up to six teachers denied having knowledge of harassing behavior against the child inside the school and declared that the parents never informed them of this situation. Although she was a shy and introverted girl for one of the teachers, others said that she did not know that she had relationship problems with her classmates. The magistrates endorsed these declarations when affirming "not having reasons" to doubt the veracity of the same ones. The court considers that they are professionals with extensive experience and emphasizes that this type of harassment, emotional or psychological, "is the least visible to teachers".
However, in the account of the events, if there were any complaints from the mother in the tutoring meetings. In fact, in primary one of the tutors told him that the girl had "some relationship problems", but that they were solved. Although the mother alleged that in an interview she informed the tutor that the child had a serious eating disorder and that she changed schools, as stated in the email provided by the center, the reasons for the girl's absence were low.