To read this content please select one of the options below:

Bullying of Students With Disabilities: An Update of Litigation Trends

aEast Stroudsburg University, USA
bLehigh University, USA

Issues Around Violence in Schools

ISBN: 978-1-83797-624-9, eISBN: 978-1-83797-623-2

Publication date: 4 December 2023


According to national surveys, every year approximately 20% of school-age students report bullying victimization. The risk of victimization is even higher for students with disabilities, particularly those whose disabilities are characterized by social–emotional or behavioral traits. To address public concern over bullying, states passed anti-bullying laws and schools implemented bullying prevention programs, with little effect on the frequency of bullying. Consequently, parents of students with disabilities increasingly filed lawsuits to address the harm caused by bullying. Previous research established an increasing trajectory for the frequency of these lawsuits, although the outcomes remained largely favorable to the district defendants. To determine whether these trends continue, this study examined bullying-related court decisions over a 2.5 year period to determine the frequency of cases and claim basis rulings, the representation of disability categories among student plaintiffs, and the outcomes distribution for the claim rulings and cases. The findings noted a continued increasing trajectory for the frequency of cases with an overrepresentation of plaintiffs with ADHD, mental health diagnoses, and autism. Most commonly cited legal bases were Section 504/ADA and negligence, with the overall outcomes distribution more parent plaintiff-favorable than the previous research. To prevent potential liability, educators should strengthen efforts to both comply with reporting and investigation requirements as well as establishing a school culture that accepts differences among students.



Holben, D.M. and Zirkel, P.A. (2023), "Bullying of Students With Disabilities: An Update of Litigation Trends", Collins, L.W., Landrum, T.J. and Cook, B.G. (Ed.) Issues Around Violence in Schools (Advances in Learning and Behavioral Disabilities, Vol. 33), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 53-68.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024 Diane M. Holben and Perry A. Zirkel. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited