Pasco schools want to stop gay-baiting - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Pasco schools want to stop gay-baiting

Posted: Updated:
Zachery Gray, before his suicide attempt Zachery Gray, before his suicide attempt
PASCO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

The Pasco County School Board is scheduled approve an agreement with the Federal Department of Education Office of Civil Rights Tuesday that's intended to stop bullying on the basis of sexual orientation.

In other words, there will now be strict sanctions and preventive measures in place against gay-baiting in Pasco County schools if board members agree with staff recommendations.

"It's tough," said Attorney Robin Allweiss. "It's a tough, tough agreement."

Allweiss should know. The proposal is the result of a civil rights complaint she filed against the Pasco school district a year ago on behalf of the parents of  bully victim Zachery Gray who tried to kill himself.

"It is sad, but I think in their hearts--and I think they made it clear--is they want to make a difference for other children," said Allweiss.

The nine-page resolution stems from a yearlong investigation prompted by the Gray family's complaint that educators at Zephyrhills High School had ignored their son's torment by bullies. 

"This is just the beginning of a response to OCR [Office of Civil Rights] issues," said Ray Gadd, Assistant Superintendent of Pasco Schools. "There will be much more to come as it relates to bullying and how we deal with it in our school system."

Gray had a girlfriend, who also attended Zephyrhills High School, and his parents say he is not gay, but they say that didn't stop school bullies from harassing him with insults about his sexual orientation day after day.

Gray hanged himself at home on May 18, 2011 and survived, but now has permanent brain damage. He requires around-the-clock nursing care.

Gray's parents say teachers and administrators at Zephyrhills High School did nothing to stop the abuses heaped on their son, even though they knew it was happening. 

A brief investigation by the school district revealed that Gray complained to one of his teachers about the abuse, and she told him to ignore it. The teacher did not take other actions that state law requires when students report bully behavior, such as telling parents about the abuse.

The proposed resolution is the result of months of negotiations between Pasco school district lawyers and the Office of Civil Rights. It makes no finding of fault, but mandates a list of actions intended to head off "sex-based harassment", and specifies procedures to deal with complaints when they arise.

There is required training for staff and improved complaint procedures.

Under the resolution, the district agreed to hire retired sociologist H. Roy Kaplan as a consultant, to help schools comply with the terms of the agreement.

Robin Allweiss, an attorney representing Zachery Gray's family, applauded the comprehensive agreement, and said she and his parents will attend Tuesday's Pasco School Board meeting when the resolution comes up for approval.

The Gray family still has pending litigation against the district, stemming from Gray's alleged abuse at Zephyrhills High School and the injuries he suffered in his attempted suicide.

Last year, voters elected Kurt Browning to replace Pasco School Superintendent Heather Fiorentino.  Browning has taken a hard line against bullying in schools since he assumed leadership of the district.

Zachery Gray's father takes some comfort in that.

"He's going the right direction," said Tony Gray.

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Bradenton apartment complex to be repaired after 8 On Your Side report

    Bradenton apartment complex to be repaired after 8 On Your Side report

    Friday, August 22 2014 4:47 PM EDT2014-08-22 20:47:05 GMT
    Last week, 8 on your side showed you some of the dilapidated conditions inside some units at the Townhouse Park Apartments in Bradenton.Tenants were having problems with mold and rodents.There was also water damage.
    Last week, 8 on your side showed you some of the dilapidated conditions inside some units at the Townhouse Park Apartments in Bradenton.Tenants were having problems with mold and rodents.There was also water damage.
  • 2.2 million bean bag chairs recalled after deaths

    2.2 million bean bag chairs recalled after deaths

    Friday, August 22 2014 11:01 AM EDT2014-08-22 15:01:24 GMT
    About 2.2 million bean bag chairs are being recalled after two children opened them, crawled inside and suffocated to death. CPSC photoAbout 2.2 million bean bag chairs are being recalled after two children opened them, crawled inside and suffocated to death. CPSC photo
    About 2.2 million bean bag chairs are being recalled after two children opened them, crawled inside and suffocated to death.
    About 2.2 million bean bag chairs are being recalled after two children opened them, crawled inside and suffocated to death.
  • TPD claims training stories fell short

    TPD claims training stories fell short

    Thursday, August 21 2014 5:12 PM EDT2014-08-21 21:12:02 GMT
    The Tampa police department is responding to an 8 On Your Side investigation into a January shooting.The police contend the reports were incomplete and contained errors.The stories focused on a January 9th police shooting in Tampa and the lack of crisis intervention team training at T.P.D.
    The Tampa police department is responding to an 8 On Your Side investigation into a January shooting.The police contend the reports were incomplete and contained errors.The stories focused on a January 9th police shooting in Tampa and the lack of crisis intervention team training at T.P.D.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Manatee school cleavage controversy?

    Manatee school cleavage controversy?

    Friday, August 22 2014 5:31 PM EDT2014-08-22 21:31:14 GMT
    A Braden River High School students says she was called out for a "wardrobe malfunction" in front of her classmates.A Braden River High School students says she was called out for a "wardrobe malfunction" in front of her classmates.
    What's causing all the controversy with this photo? A Braden River High School student says she was humiliated, embarrassed, and horrified on the first day of school after she was called out for a "wardrobe malfunction" in front of her classmates.
    What's causing all the controversy with this photo? A Braden River High School student says she was humiliated, embarrassed, and horrified on the first day of school after she was called out for a "wardrobe malfunction" in front of her classmates.
  • Crash closes I-75 NB in Manatee County

    Crash closes I-75 NB in Manatee County

    Friday, August 22 2014 5:22 PM EDT2014-08-22 21:22:03 GMT
    Deadly crash in Manatee County.Deadly crash in Manatee County.
    There is a deadly accident on Northbound I-75 in Manatee County right now.The crash involves a tanker truck and multiple other vehicles. All Northbound lanes on I-75 near Ellenton are closed right now,
    There is a deadly accident on Northbound I-75 in Manatee County right now.The crash involves a tanker truck and multiple other vehicles. All Northbound lanes on I-75 near Ellenton are closed right now,
  • Hernando Sheriff's office has new K-9 deputy

    Hernando Sheriff's office has new K-9 deputy

    Friday, August 22 2014 5:02 PM EDT2014-08-22 21:02:07 GMT
    Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuisannounced Friday that the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has a brand new deputy."K-9 Justice" is a 14-month old German Shepherd and will be joining the K-9 unit. Corporal Stephen Miller, K-9 Unit Supervisor, will be his handler.
    Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuisannounced Friday that the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has a brand new deputy."K-9 Justice" is a 14-month old German Shepherd and will be joining the K-9 unit. Corporal Stephen Miller, K-9 Unit Supervisor, will be his handler.
  • Police investigating shooting near VSU campus

    Police investigating shooting near VSU campus

    Police investigating shooting near VSU campus

    Friday, August 22 2014 8:57 AM EDT2014-08-22 12:57:58 GMT
    ETTRICK, VA (WSLS) - Police in Chesterfield are investigating reports of an overnight shooting near the Virginia State University campus.
    ETTRICK, VA (WSLS) - Police in Chesterfield are investigating reports of an overnight shooting near the Virginia State University campus.
  • Danville police investigate possible gang activity

    Danville police investigate possible gang activity

    Thursday, August 21 2014 10:40 PM EDT2014-08-22 02:40:38 GMT
    Danville police said 8 people face charges of prohibited street gang activity in connection to an attack of a 49 year-old man.
    Danville police said 8 people face charges of prohibited street gang activity in connection to an attack of a 49 year-old man.
  • UPDATE: Wanted Roanoke Co. man found in woods

    UPDATE: Wanted Roanoke Co. man found in woods

    Friday, August 22 2014 5:16 PM EDT2014-08-22 21:16:16 GMT
    Tiffany and Joshua are now both in jail.Tiffany and Joshua are now both in jail.
    The Roanoke County man police have been looking for since Tuesday was caught in the woods Friday morning.
    The Roanoke County man police have been looking for since Tuesday was caught in the woods Friday morning.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.