Pasco schools want to stop gay-baiting - WFLA News Channel 8

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>>

  • Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Community reaches out to Spring Hill family after theft of lawn equipment

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:41:35 GMT
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
    Michael Depace wants to say "thank you" and give a huge hug to everyone that reached out after a thief stole $3,500 worth of lawn equipment from him.
  • FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    FL vehicle registration renewal fees drop

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:48:49 GMT
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
    That little gift you get from the state on your birthday every year, to renew your car tag, is going to be cheaper starting Monday.  The cut will save drivers about $13 to $25 depending on the size of their vehicle.
  • Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Mold takes over St. Pete condo, creeps into neighbors' homes

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:48:06 GMT
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
    Josephine Ramos is literally sick about the toxic black mold growing in the St. Petersburg condominium beside hers. She's been feeling ill for months with headaches and breathing problems. Recently, she had peak inside the condo next doors and couldn't believe her eyes.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Pasco County couple survive a week adrift at sea

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:17 AM EDT2014-09-02 04:17:17 GMT
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
    A Pasco county couple is recovering after spending a week adrift in the Gulf of Mexico. They were trapped 80 miles off shore without any food and very little water for seven days.
  • Palm Harbor strip club hit & run victim makes plea

    Palm Harbor strip club hit & run victim makes plea

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:33 PM EDT2014-09-02 01:33:46 GMT
    New video shows the violent incident early Friday morning, outside "Silks" strip club on US 19 in Palm Harbor. Bouncer Doug Berube and the club DJ. wanted to talk to a guy in a car about an earlier incident. The driver shoved it in reverse, hit the gas, and backed over Berube. He has a plea for the driver....
    New video shows the violent incident early Friday morning, outside "Silks" strip club on US 19 in Palm Harbor. Bouncer Doug Berube and the club DJ. wanted to talk to a guy in a car about an earlier incident. The driver shoved it in reverse, hit the gas, and backed over Berube. He has a plea for the driver....
  • Land O' Lakes man: troopers saved my life

    Land O' Lakes man: troopers saved my life

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:41:51 GMT
    A Pasco County man credits two Florida Highway Patrol troopers with saving his life. A Pasco County man credits two Florida Highway Patrol troopers with saving his life.
    Chris Henry calls two Florida Highway Patrol Troopers heroes. He believes they saved his life.
    Chris Henry calls two Florida Highway Patrol Troopers heroes. He believes they saved his life.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: August 18 - 23

    Restaurant Ratings Most Violations: August 18 - 23

    Friday, August 29 2014 5:58 PM EDT2014-08-29 21:58:28 GMT
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?
    Ever wonder what goes on in the kitchen of your favorite restaurants?
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans to drop animal shows

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium plans to drop animal shows

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:09 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:09:15 GMT
    Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone works with Winter the dolphin in Clearwater, Image APAug. 3, 2011 file photo, Clearwater Marine Aquarium senior marine mammal trainer Abby Stone works with Winter the dolphin in Clearwater, Image AP
    No animal performances will be held at a redesigned aquatic center planned by the Florida aquarium featured in the "Dolphin Tale" movies.
    No animal performances will be held at a redesigned aquatic center planned by the Florida aquarium featured in the "Dolphin Tale" movies.
  • Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Bubba 'The Love Sponge' to announce new Tampa gig

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:09 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:09:07 GMT
    File photo of Bubba the Love Sponge ClemFile photo of Bubba the Love Sponge Clem
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
    Bubba "The Love Sponge" announced on his Twitter page Monday that he will soon have a new Tampa home.
Powered by WorldNow

200 South Parker Street, Tampa, FL 33606

Telephone: 813.228.8888
Fax: 813.225.2770
Email: news@wfla.com

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