Student sues teacher over alleged bullying campaign
A teenager has launched a lawsuit potentially worth millions after claiming his schoolteacher led an 18 month bullying campaign by implying he was homosexual.
The 17-year-old from Northern NSW, who can't be identified because he is a minor, claims he was psychologically damaged after his teacher ridiculed him - often during lessons in front of his classmates - to the point where he tried to commit suicide.
The teen dropped out of state school without completing year 12 after being suspended for lashing out at the teacher and claims his humiliation was worsened by the bush telegraph affect of living a tiny town, which has a population of less than 1000.
In January, he was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety.
He has initiated legal action in the NSW Supreme Court against the teacher, who can't legally be named because he is yet to file a defence statement with the court.
The teenager is suing the teacher for negligence, claiming he abused his position of power and trust as a mentor.
He is also suing the State of NSW claiming the NSW Department of Education failed to protect him despite numerous complaints to the school's hierarchy.
The details were included in the teen's statement of claim, filed with the court on April 9 by his lawyer Todd Scott, from Scott Mackenzie Lawyers.
He has also hired barristers Dominic Toomey SC and Dean Woodbury.
"It's unfortunate and almost unbelievable that this could happen in today's society," Mr Scott said.
"Our children are in need of support and nurturing, not ridicule and torment. As the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, we don't intend to comment any further.'
The teacher, who quit the school after an internal investigation and is now working at another state school, did not reply to questions asking if he will defend the case.
A department spokesman also declined to comment because the case is ongoing.
According to the statement of claim, the teen attempted suicide on May 24, 2018 after the teacher showed the class a full-screen sized sign on a laptop that said the teenager "loves" another male teen.
The other male teenager previously attended the school and was known in the town.
The teenager taking legal action left the school grounds after the laptop screen sign incident and went to the local tip where he found a discarded knife, which he used to slash his wrists, the document said.
He was suspended after he returned to the school and threatened to put the knife through the teacher's computer.
The teenager alleges the teacher made similar signs, which were shown to students and school staff over a period of 12 to 18 months, from about February 2017.
One sign allegedly depicted a picture of a man performing oral sex on another man with the teen's name featured above one of the men, the document said.
On an occasion when he wasn't at school, the teen alleges the teacher had another student take a photo of a sign that said he loved another male student and send it to him using social media.
Attached to the teen's statement was correspondence from the department's director of child protection investigations about their investigation into the teacher.
It said "there is sufficient evidence to support the alleged conduct occurred" in relation to a complaint he made to the school's principal about teasing and ill treatment by the teacher.
According to the letter, the teacher was "formally reprimanded", fined, placed on a 12 month monitoring program and restricted from higher duties for 12 months before her left the school.
The teen claims the department failed to remove the teacher following complaints and that it had no systems to educate teachers against bullying or deal with complaints.
He claims the teacher perpetrated the alleged bullying and caused him psychological harm and is asking for "exemplary damages" to deter other teachers from engaging in similar alleged behaviour.
He has asked for aggravated damages, claiming he never received an apology, was humiliated in front of classmates and had the added distress of dropping out before completing his studies, his statement reveals.
The department reveal why the teacher was not sacked after its internal investigation upheld the complaint that he was guilty of "teasing" and "ill treatment".