Alleged bullying victim says Wayne County Board of Education failed to protect her

By Kyla Asbury | Nov 8, 2012

WAYNE – An alleged victim of bullying is suing the Wayne County Board of Education after she claims she suffered injuries at the hands of one of her bullies and was punished for it.

In February 2006, Briana Napier was a student at Fort Gay Middle School and was the victim of ongoing bullying by fellow student Rebecca Rowe and other girls who were Rowe’s friends, according to a complaint filed Oct. 19 in Wayne Circuit Court.

Napier claims she informed her mother, Rhonda Artrip, of the bullying and her mother promised she would discuss it with the principal, Donita Webb, the following day.

Artrip drove Napier to school on Feb. 23, 2006, but Napier was hesitant to go into the school because Rowe and several other girls had called her names and threatened to beat her up, according to the suit, however, Artrip called Webb that morning and informed her of the bullying by Rowe and her friends and Webb responded that she was aware of the problem, that Rowe had been in her office the previous day for a similar incident and that she would take care of the matter.

Napier claims later that morning, Webb confronted her and demanded to know if there was a problem with any of her fellow students, but, because she was intimidated, she told the principal no and went on her way.

Webb did not confront or speak with Rowe, or any of the girls associated with Rowe, about the bullying allegations involving Napier, according to the suit, and did not immediately report the allegations of Rowe and her friends to the Wayne County Board of Education.

Napier claims she managed to avoid Rowe all morning, but was not as fortunate at lunch and her attempts to avoid her came to a halt when Rowe confronted her in the hallway with several other girls and told her she wanted to fight.

When Napier responded that she did not wish to do so, Rowe punched her in the mouth, according to the suit, and a teacher from the school called Artrip to inform her that Napier “had been involved in an ‘accident.’”

Napier claims when her mother arrived at the school she observed Rowe “receiving ‘High 5s’ from several students outside of Principal Webb’s office.”

Artrip sought out the principal and asked to see Napier, who was alone, with no supervision, bleeding profusely, with no tissues or first aid of any kind and her two front teeth were dangling from where Rowe had punched her, according to the suit, and when Artrip asked what had happened, Webb responded that Napier “was at the ‘wrong’ hallway, apparently trying to avoid Rowe, when Rowe and her friends accosted her.”

Napier claims in this conversation, Webb admitted that she had not spoken with Rowe earlier that day after Artrip had informed her of the bullying, and that the only thing she had done was confront Napier about the problem and she had said everything was ok.

On Feb. 26, 2006, Webb called Artrip and informed Artrip’s eldest daughter that she had decided to suspend Napier for three days “for her role in getting beat up without throwing a punch,” according to the suit, however, it is not known whether Rowe was also suspended for her role in instigating the unprovoked attack.

Napier claims the following day, Artrip called Mike Rutherford of the Wayne County Board of Education and discovered he had not been made aware of the problem, which is required by the West Virginia Safe Schools Act, but promised Artrip he would fully investigate the matter.

The Wayne County Board of Education had a duty to provide a safe school environment for Napier and breached that duty when Webb failed to take appropriate action to protect Napier from being severely injured in a bullying incident, according to the suit.

Napier claims after the incident, neither Webb nor any other school employees administered first aid or assistance of any kind to her.

As a result of the defendant’s actions, Napier sustained pain and suffering; permanent disfigurement and damage to her teeth; medical bills; and other damages, according to the suit.

Napier is seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. She is being represented by Timothy P. Rosinsky.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Darrell Pratt.

Wayne Circuit Court case number: 12-C-244

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