Attempted suicide leads to tougher bullying policy

Pasco teen needs full time care

LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - The Pasco County school district voted Tuesday to beef up it's policies regarding bullying. The agreement also puts to an end a federal inquiry that came after a student's suicide attempt was blamed on harassment.

It's hard for the parents of 19-year-old Zachary Gray to show much joy. Their lives revolve around a son who needs full-time medical care.

They say constant bullying at Zephyrhills High School led to their son's attempt to hang himself.

"It hurts, but it's getting there.  It's a long road," said his father, Tony Gray.

There are moments of happiness for Zachary Gray, small improvements as he smiles from his hospital room.

But he remains unable to talk or walk.  His life is a struggle, brought on, his parents say, after he attempted suicide because of relentless harassment and bullying at Zephyrhills High.

"Our son is where he's at because of this.  But if more kids can get help where they don't wind up in our situation it would be great," said Tony Gray.

Zachary's parents were among those at Tuesday's school board meeting there to see the district agree to adopt tougher policies on bullying.

"I have said repeatedly bullying is a community issue, not  necessarily a school issue. However it manifests itself in our schools,' said superintendent Kurt Browning.

The measures require the district to take all reasonable steps to prevent all forms of bullying. It also revises policies to include intimidation based on sexual discrimination.

"Are they going to investigate it?  Are they going to put all those policies in place and really do a good job doing it?  And I think that's where the issue still lies," said the Gray's attorney Robin Allweiss

"It's just about letting kids be kids and letting them be who they are and what they are.  We all have to step in and support their decisions on whatever it is, and not harass the crap out of them," said Zachary's mother Sissie Gray.

Two other Pasco County high schoolers committed suicide since 2011.  Those cases are also believed to be connected to bullying.

The school district says they will be proactive.  They have a community summit planned for June 27 in Wesley Chapel.

Meanwhile, Zachary's family notified the Pasco school district they intend to sue.

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