Seattle Girls' School sued over bullied student

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by TONYA MOSLEY / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on May 26, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Updated Friday, May 27 at 10:05 AM

SEATTLE – The family of a teenage girl who says she was constantly bullied at her school are suing, claiming the school did nothing to stop it.

Olivia, 16, says she was made to feel by Seattle Girls' School that the bullying was her problem. She claims that one of the teachers even told her to "man up."

"SGS was sort of like a battle zone. It was like prepping myself for war," she said.

Seattle Girls' School is a $20,000 per year private middle school, known for its commitment to empowering young women. But Olivia says the experience was anything but uplifting as she claims she was physically attacked, mocked and teased just about every day.

"I had a marker thrown at my head. I was kicked in my back. I was taunted and teased and called terrible names."

Names like "fat pig" and "ugly."

"This is not at all what I envisioned for her, and it's certainly not what the school promised for her," said Carol Kotonias-Ray, Olivia's mother. She was most bothered by how she says the school handled it.

"Olivia got a lot of messaging while she was at the school that she was just going to have to deal with it or it was minimized that we're all great girls here. Let's just get along," said Carol.

So, the family is seeking unspecified damages and a firm protocol on how the Seattle Girls School handles bullying.

"Seattle Girls' School needs to know that bullying is dangerous and harmful and step up and own up," said attorney Yvonne Ward.

The head of the school said, in a statement:

"We take the issue of bullying, relational aggression and cyber bullying very seriously.  We invest extensive time and effort in ongoing education to address any issues of bullying."

Olivia says she is much happier in her new school, but says she's still haunted by what happened.

"I just want justice from the school. I want them to own up to letting this happen. They let this happen," said Olivia.

An anti-bullying law took effect last year requiring public schools to have a policy to deal with bullying.

(Editor's note: We are not giving Olivia's last name to protect her identity. Her mother has a different last name.)

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