INDIANAPOLIS – A $65,000 out-of-court settlement might have brought to an end the controversy that began more than a year ago when Darnell “Dynasty” Young fired a stun gun in the air at Tech High School.
Young’s action — an attempt, he said, to scare away a group of Tech students who were bullying him — led to his expulsion for violating IPS’ weapons policies. Young and his mother sued the district, saying the teen — who is gay — was forced to carry the “self-protection flashlight” to school because Tech staff had failed to take seriously his complaints of being bullied.
As part of a settlement filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, the district also will expunge the expulsion from Young’s record.
“I’m just happy that it’s over and I can move on and do better things with my activism,” Young said Wednesday. “I will have a chance to work with different wonderful people and can continue helping people by spreading awareness of bullying.”
Attorneys for Young and IPS filed the proposed settlement Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. The agreement still must be approved by a judge.
In the suit, Young and his mother, Chelisa Grimes, claimed the district discriminated against Young because, despite repeated complaints, IPS didn’t protect him from bullies who taunted him for being gay.
“All students should be able to get an education without fearing for their physical safety, and they should be able to rely on school administrators to protect them when abuse does occur,” Christopher F. Stoll, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said at the time.
According to the suit, Young’s taunters used homophobic slurs, spat and threw rocks and glass bottles at him, but administrators blamed Young, who carried his mother’s purses and wore her jewelry to school.
The family’s attorneys claimed in the suit that the district violated Young’s civil rights and the Constitution because, among other things, it it tried to get him to change the way he dressed, a violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
The district, the School Board, IPS Superintendent Eugene White, Tech Principal Larry Yarrell and Assistant Principal Debra Barlowe were named as defendants.
IPS spokesman John Althardt declined to comment Wednesday on the litigation.
Grimes said she gave Young the stun gun so he could protect himself because she feared he would be hurt. He fired it in the air during April 16 when six kids allegedly threatened to beat him up.
Young was expelled until January for having the device, but in August, the district reduced the penalty so he could start the fall semester on time. However, IPS said he would have to go to an alternative school. Young declined to come back to IPS and instead attended Indianapolis Metropolitan High School, a charter school, for his senior year. He graduated in June.
Young said Wednesday that he intends to use the money to pursue an education at Atlanta Metropolitan Community College, where he intends to major in political speaking and business.
An attorney who helped represent Young and his mother expressed satisfaction.
“This settlement marks the end of two very difficult years for Dynasty,” said Brent Ray of the Kirkland & Ellis law firm. “He has persevered, and it is great to see his positive attitude and warm spirit again.”
“Bullying and harassment is a major problem facing our schools,” said Asaf Orr, an attorney with The National Center for Lesbian Rights, which also assisted with Young’s case. “This case demonstrates the severe effects that bullying can have on students. We hope that this settlement will encourage school districts to implement safeguards to effectively address peer harassment and create a school environment where students feel safe learning.”
from The IndyStar
‘Dynasty’ Young Sues School Over Bullying
Darnell ‘Dynasty’ Young Has Encounter At Mall
Gay Teen Expelled For Using Stun Gun
Bullied Gay Student Faces Expulsion After Firing Stun Gun
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