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Ladue schools settle student's harassment suit for $75,000

District website

A Ladue high school student who filed suit saying he was harassed by classmates who called him names like “faggot” will receive $75,000 from the district under a settlement unsealed Wednesday.

The settlement also calls on the district to conduct training in bullying and harassment and for parents of students subjected to such behavior to be notified as soon as possible.

The student, who identified in the lawsuit only as S.Z., filed suit last August, naming as defendants the district and several administrators as well as a science teacher at Horton Watkins high school.

The suit claimed that the name calling by other student “created a hostile and abusive educational environment” and that staff at the high school “failed to properly respond to the severe, pervasive, and persistent harassing conduct of students, in violation of the District’s policy against sexual harassment.”

When the student complained to the science teacher, the suit said, she dismissed his concerns and told him the conduct “was just boys being boys.”

The behavior continued for a few months, the suit said, and at one point a student threatened to hit the plaintiff with his fist. Another time, a different student said to the plaintiff that “you’re going to die, die!”

When the student complained to the teacher, the suit said, she said both sides were at fault. At one point, the suit said, she said that the plaintiff told the harassing student that he could “supersize my order.” An administrator took that to be a demeaning comment about the other student working at McDonald’s.

Overall, the suit claimed, the treatment against the plaintiff amounted to “severe, pervasive, and persistent sexual harassment permitted by Defendants resulted in severe anxiety, depressive feelings, and an inability of Plaintiff to concentrate on his school work, which resulted in a severe drop in Plaintiff’s grades.”

As part of the settlement, the plaintiff agreed to drop his suit and not file any other legal action. Each side will pay its own legal expenses, the settlement said. The teacher named in the suit remains on the staff of the high school.

Follow Dale on Twitter: @dalesinger

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.