Pasco schools want to stop gay-baiting - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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>>

  • Bay area home security customers continue to complain they were mislead

    Bay area home security customers continue to complain they were mislead

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:54 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:54:28 GMT
    Bay area homeowners continue to complain of door-to-door salesman from Vision Security.
    Bay area homeowners continue to complain of door-to-door salesman from Vision Security.
  • Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Pinellas front desk school staff trained to handle medical needs at some schools

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:15 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:15:59 GMT
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
    Penny Perez, of St. Petersburg, worries every time she sends her 11-year-old son, Keith, to school. Keith has a rare condition called Williams Syndrome. He is developmentally delayed, and if his blood pressure is too high for an extended period of time, his heart could stop.
  • Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Venice man says he has melting dashboard in his Toyota Camry

    Tuesday, August 26 2014 5:01 PM EDT2014-08-26 21:01:38 GMT
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
    Kayser Sayeg doesn't allow his wife to drive her 2008 Toyota Camry on long distances.In the hot Florida sun, the dashboard melts and becomes incredibly sticky.Aside from being a nuisance to clean, it causes a glare in the windshield, sometimes making it difficult to drive
  • NewsMore>>

  • Mother manatee and calf rescued in Clearwater

    Mother manatee and calf rescued in Clearwater

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:47 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:47:47 GMT
    Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute FacebookPhoto: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Facebook
    A mother manatee and her dependent calf were successfully rescued at Allen Creek in Clearwater Tuesday thanks to a joint effort by FWC and Clearwater Marine Aquarium staff.
    A mother manatee and her dependent calf were successfully rescued at Allen Creek in Clearwater Tuesday thanks to a joint effort by FWC and Clearwater Marine Aquarium staff.
  • Parents concerned about Hillsborough school bus overcrowding

    Parents concerned about Hillsborough school bus overcrowding

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 6:29 PM EDT2014-08-27 22:29:01 GMT
    Parents are worried about the safety of children riding an overcrowded bus to Thompson Elementary School in Ruskin.Latrese Thomas reached out to 8 On Your Side after several students were taken off the bus because there wasn't enough room."Yesterday, about five kids had to get off the bus and their parents had to take them to school," said Thomas.Kids have also had issues on the way home from school. Thomas says her 7-year-old daughter Victoria Woods was dropped off at the wrong bus stop.Stev...
    Parents are worried about the safety of children riding an overcrowded bus to Thompson Elementary School in Ruskin.Latrese Thomas reached out to 8 On Your Side after several students were taken off the bus because there wasn't enough room."Yesterday, about five kids had to get off the bus and their parents had to take them to school," said Thomas.Kids have also had issues on the way home from school. Thomas says her 7-year-old daughter Victoria Woods was dropped off at the wrong bus stop.Stev...
  • Tanker overturns on I-75, spills gas, closes lanes for hours

    Tanker overturns on I-75, spills gas, closes lanes for hours

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 5:58 PM EDT2014-08-27 21:58:49 GMT
    Northbound lanes on Interstate 75 between Bee Ridge Road and Fruitville Road closed Wednesday morning after an accident involving a tanker. Two lanes have re-opened as of 4:30 p.m.
    Northbound lanes on Interstate 75 between Bee Ridge Road and Fruitville Road closed Wednesday morning after an accident involving a tanker. Two lanes have re-opened as of 4:30 p.m.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • 'Magic Mike,' Sequel to be Filmed in Savannah

    'Magic Mike,' Sequel to be Filmed in Savannah

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 12:52 PM EDT2014-08-27 16:52:15 GMT
    The Savannah Film Office says the sequel to the movie Magic Mike is scheduled to be filmed in the Savannah area beginning in September.
    The Savannah Film Office says the sequel to the movie Magic Mike is scheduled to be filmed in the Savannah area beginning in September.
  • Effingham County Siblings Arrested, Charged with Incest

    Effingham County Siblings Arrested, Charged with Incest

    The sheriff's office says they two were caught in semi-truck in a parking lot across for Effingham High School on Tuesday. 
    The sheriff's office says they two were caught in semi-truck in a parking lot across for Effingham High School on Tuesday. 
  • UPDATE: NC adult party 'mansion' owner convicted in tax fraud scheme

    UPDATE: NC adult party 'mansion' owner convicted in tax fraud scheme

    Wednesday, June 19 2013 7:29 PM EDT2013-06-19 23:29:02 GMT
    Residents of a North Raleigh neighborhood say they fear leaving their homes because a neighbor uses her "Mansion" as an "adult, for-profit club." A Wake County Superior Court judge issued a restraining
    Residents of a North Raleigh neighborhood say they fear leaving their homes because a neighbor uses her "Mansion" as an "adult, for-profit club." A Wake County Superior Court judge issued a restraining
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

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