By Paul Milo, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com; Updated Nov 17, 2017; Posted Nov 16, 2017
RIDGEWOOD– A boy who was beaten on public school property and a girl who was cyber-bullied are suing the school district, claiming they were victims of a cruel game involving social media that had been ignored by the district for years, their attorney said Thursday.
“Two years ago Ridgewood High School had this exact same problem where students were disseminating photos” and school officials failed to address the situation, said Rosemarie Arnold, of Fort Lee.
Police and school officials launched an investigation early this month after they learned of a male student who was allegedly beaten by classmates on school property outside school hours. The first incident occurred on Stevens Field, followed by a second incident on Brookside Field, according to Facebook posts and a news release sent out by Ridgewood police. The first fight happened around Oct. 23, according to a notice of claim filed by Arnold Thursday.
The youth was hospitalized after suffering serious injuries, including facial fractures and eye damage, Arnold said.
Students recorded the second fight and jeered the boy as it was occurring, Superintendent of Schools Daniel Fishbein said.
Arnold and family members say the boy was attempting to defend his girlfriend after pictures of her were circulated on social media. The girl was clothed in the pictures, which showed her from the waist up and had been sent to a prior boyfriend, Arnold said.
She also said that for at least two years students at the school have participated in a game the object of which is to collect nude photos of other students, which are then shared on social media.
“The board and the administration knew about this game but did nothing…The kids get a sense of ‘I have to handle this myself,'” Arnold said of the boy’s attempt to defend the girl.
The suit names Ridgewood High School and the Board of Education as defendants. The social media site Snapchat is also a defendant for allegedly failing to uphold its own policies governing certain kinds of photos.
A spokeswoman for the district could not immediately be reached Thursday night.