BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
Some 4700 students are expected to attend the first day of classes in the Boardman Local School System on the day after Labor Day, Tues., Sept. 6.
“We anticipate enrollment figure to be close to last year,” Supt. Frank Lazzeri said this week, adding “But we won’t know our final numbers until late September.”
As school opens, the local system is facing two law suits over allegations of cyber bullying.
And there is the tale of senior football player Dayne Hammond, who just two weeks ago announced he would leave the Spartans and play at Warren Harding.
That decision didn’t sit well with the Ohio High School Athletic Association that, according to Boardman HS Athletic Director Dave Smercansky, turned down Hammond’s request for a transfer.
As of Tues., Aug. 16, Boardman school officials said that Hammond hadn’t re-enrolled in the local system, leaving him a player without a team.
On Mon., Aug. 15, Hammond’s father, Barry, reportedly met with high school principal Tim Saxton and head grid coach Mark D’Eramo.
New in the Boardman Local School this year is a voluntary drug testing program. Supt. Lazzeri was reportedly drawing the final draft of the policy last week.
The suits over cyber-bullying would seek to make the Boardman Local School responsible for the actions of their students on such social media as Facebook, even if the children were not in school when they made their posts.
One of the two suits was filed by Atty. James Gentile on behalf of former Glenwood Middle School student Dara Genovese and her mother, Tonia, formerly of 632 Westfield Dr. Since the suit was filed, they have relocated to Illinois and claim to be so damaged by e-mail and Facebook postings they want more than $12 million in damages.
The suit names not only school officials and families, but also Boardman Community Baseball.
A second suit, also alleging cyber- bullying, was filed by the parents of teenager Hannah Rose Sadlowski, Beth and William Sadlowski, of 7705 Huntington Dr., by Atty. Robert Rohrbaugh. It seeks to hold the school system and officials responsible for postings of its middle school students and wants some $100,000 in damages.
The Genovese Matter
The suit names the Boardman Local Schools, Board of Education, the superintendent, the principal of Glenwood Middle School, Boardman Community Baseball, eight others and two ‘John Does’ in its quest for a multi-million dollar judgement.
It claims “malicious impairment” of the Genovese girl’s 14th amendment right to equal protection through “intentional infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence and depraved dereliction of duty.”
Atty. Gentile stakes a claim the Genovese girl “for many months and year prior to this suit...endured harassment and bullying at school at the hands of numerous other students...goaded by [parents]...by means of electronic communication” including phone and internet social media.
It names Boardman Community Baseball claiming once that organization was notified the girl was being harassed, an agent of the organization “took it upon himself to paint Miss Genovese and her family in a false light, as mentally unsound.”
The suit alleges that the baseball organization released confidential information “to the community which further targeted Dara Genovese as a subject of bullying.”
Atty. Gentile claims the Boardman Local Schools “should have known about this constant abuse” because Tonia Genovese brought it to the attention [of the school system] “at least a dozen times.”
In fact, the system did know of the allegations, and at one point suspended five students for their alleged cyber-bullying.
Atty. Gentile said because Dara Genovese was victimized, she became depressed to the point of needing psychological counseling “well into her adult years.”
In naming several of her fellow middle school students, the suit implies Genovese’s peers began in 2008 to ridicule the girl, purposely alienating her from her peers while claiming her mom was psychotic.
Such conduct was “extreme and outrageous beyond the bonds of decency,” Atty. Gentile claims, so much so that the child lost her companionship and consortium with her parents (who are divorced).
The harassment was indeed so much, counsel says, that Tonia relocated her child “to another state and school district.”
The Sadlowski Suit
This action names the local school system, two Center Middle School administrators and two guidance counselors and argues that Miss Sadlowski, now 14-years-old, “was bullied, harassed and intimidated both on and off of school grounds” and claims the school officials “failed to take any action whatsoever to prevent...the continuation...of harassment, bullying and intimidation.”
Miss Sadlowski, like Miss Genovese, no longer attends Boardman Local Schools.