published Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Murray County school bullying lawsuit dismissed

Tina and David Long visit their son, Tyler's, grave. Tyler was a victim of constant bullying at Murray County High School.
Tina and David Long visit their son, Tyler's, grave. Tyler was a victim of constant bullying at Murray County High School.
The Weinstein Co.

A Murray County, Ga., parent who has gained national attention after speaking out on her son's suicide said she feels vindicated even though a federal judge on Monday dismissed her lawsuit against a school district.

David and Tina Long filed the lawsuit in 2010 against Murray County Schools and high school Principal Gina Linder, claiming their son, Tyler, killed himself after relentless school bullying. But U.S. District Judge Harold Murphey granted summary judgment to the school district, writing there wasn't enough evidence to prove officials showed deliberate indifference.

But he also wrote: "There is little question that Tyler was the victim of severe disability harassment, and that defendants should have done more to stop the harassment and prevent future incidents."

Tina Long said even though she is angry the school district won't be held accountable, she feels justified with the judge's response.

"We do feel vindicated in the fact that what we've been saying the judge confirmed," she said. "He did what he could under the law ... and that's why [the law] needs to be changed."

School officials couldn't be reached. But officials said in previous interviews that the school wasn't to blame because the suicide took place at home.

The Longs filed the suit after their 17-year-old son hanged himself on Oct. 17, 2009, accusing officials of ignoring constant bullying at school and on the school bus. Tyler suffered from Asperger's syndrome, a developmental disorder, and had been bullied since middle school, his mother said.

Since the lawsuit was filed, the Longs have spoken out publicly against school bullying and received attention from ABC News in a special on bullying and in a documentary called "Bully," which premiered in Chattanooga in April.

The Longs haven't decided whether they will appeal the judge's decision, but one thing's for sure, David Long said.

"We will take however long it takes to get the laws changed and the word out," he said.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at or 423-757-6659.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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