Father of student at Westover High says a policy change is due to lawsuit

Father of student at Westover High says a policy change is due to lawsuit

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - A father who is suing the Dougherty County School System said a policy change shows system leaders know they're in the wrong.

Manswell Peterson's son was bullied during a Westover High basketball team trip last year.

Six players and the coach were punished.

The Dougherty County School Board did make changes to its chaperone policy last year. Manswell Peterson believes it is due to his lawsuit.

"I truly believe that, that the new Dougherty County Policy is based on this lawsuit."

A chaperone can no longer bring a child on a field trip who is not part of the trip. Peterson said it's because a chaperone on the Westover trip during which his son was bullied was distracted by caring for a child. School system attorney Tommy Coleman said that's not true.

"That was the only child on the bus and on the trip related to a chaperone and he certainly had every right to be there because he was on the basketball team," said Manswell, Peterson.

Coleman said there were not any chaperone problems on that trip.

"We had the requisite number according to the system's police department who investigated the entire matter," said Tommy Coleman, Dougherty School System.

Peterson claims another chaperone couldn't be accounted for, and the the lack of adult supervision led to his son's bullying.

"One chaperone has a minor child, that chaperone is distracted by not only with it's coaching duties, but also with the caring of his minor child," said Peterson.

Peterson supports the policy change but said more needs to be done.

"It's ten steps in the right direction not one, it's ten steps in the right direction because now there are no other distractions there," said  Peterson.

Peterson's lawsuit asks for 6-million dollars from the school system and 2-million from Westover Head Coach Dallis Smith.

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