Sunday, December 03, 2000

Somerset schools settle harassment suit by student

        SOMERSET, Ky. — Somerset school officials have settled a lawsuit with a student who claimed they failed to protect him from harassment by students who thought he was gay, attorneys said.

        The Somerset Independent School District will pay an estimated $135,000 to Bradley Putman, said his mother, Regina Cooper.

        The district agreed to the settlement on Tuesday and on Thursday its board adopted a more stringent harassment policy.

        Mr. Putman, who is now 19, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in London in March, alleging administrators did nothing to shield him from ridicule and death threats during the 1997-98 school year.

        When then-Superintendent Monte Chance met with Ms. Cooper he told her the district had no policy against same-sex harassment, the lawsuit said. Mr. Chance is now superintendent in Franklin County.

        The new policy forbids any harassment or discrimination based on “actual or perceived sexual orientation” and out lines the schools' responsibilities and the recourse available to victims.

        Everett Hoffman, an attorney for Mr. Putman, confirmed the settlement had been reached, but said he could not disclose its contents because of a confidentiality clause.

        Ms. Cooper said the new harassment policy is the largest victory for her.


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