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June 29, 2015

ROCKLAND, Maine — The area school district claims that a Rockland mother is wrongly trying to turn a ski accident into a federal case.

Regional School Unit 13 filed a motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Portland to have the lawsuit filed by Bethany A. Berry of Rockland dismissed. The lawsuit had been sealed from when she filed it on April 21 but the court lifted that impoundment on May 15.

School district attorney Melissa Hewey of Portland stated in Friday's filing that Berry has tried to turn a skiing accident into a civil rights action.

Berry's son was injured on Jan. 20, 2014, while skiing on Sugarloaf Mountain with the Oceanside High School East's ski club. He asked that he not be taken by ambulance to a hospital but was taken there over his objection, according to the court filing.

The student suffered a concussion, chipped and dislocated teeth, and injuries to his chest, head, back and tongue.

The district denied an allegation that excessive force was used by the ski club coordinator in having Berry's son taken by ambulance to the hospital against his wishes. The district said the student was not restrained and the teacher simply insisted the student be taken to the hospital because of his injuries.

The student's physician authorized him to have a temporary handicapped placard for his car but Berry claims that on Jan. 31, 2014, a school staff member refused him access through the handicapped entrance of the school. The lawsuit further claims that he was hazed and bullied by students and staff in March and April 2014 because of his injuries.

Berry also contends that an unknown person drove by the family's home on April 22, 2015, and yelled a racial epithet at her son and that there has been a pattern of terrorism and harassment against him. That claim was added to the lawsuit in an amended complaint filed by Berry in federal court.

The district claims that it is unaware of the facts alleged by Berry and that the school staff and board were not made aware of any bullying until the federal lawsuit was filed. The district also contends that none of the claims made by Berry are constitutional issues.

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Related Professional

  • Melissa A. Hewey

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  • School & Education

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