GUILDERLAND: District prevails in suit

Last week, the Guilderland Central School District announced its victory in a civil rights lawsuit brought against the district by former student Garrett Barmore.

In the July decision, which was announced Tuesday, Jan. 30, U.S. District Judge Thomas J. McAvoy dismissed all charges against the Guilderland Central School District and its administrators in and ordered that Barmore pay the district $9,500 in court fees.

Barmore filed the lawsuit in the wake of disciplinary actions taken against him as a result of an incident in October 2003. At that time, Barmore allegedly entered the Guilderland Central High School cafeteria and punched a student, breaking the student's nose. A fight ensued, and Andrew Dillon, then 18, joined the brawl after the injured student, who was white, allegedly yelled racial slurs. Both Dillon and Barmore are black.

All three students received a five-day suspension from the principal at the time, Ismael Villafane.

Additionally, Barmore was suspended for one month by Superintendent Greg Aidala, a punishment that was later overturned by the school board and stricken from Barmore's record.

In his lawsuit, Barmore claimed that school officials did not act equitably when administering disciplinary measures to students involved in the incident and that he received unfair treatment because of his race.

McAvoy determined that Barmore's allegations of civil rights violations and negligence were without merit and ruled that district administrators followed district policies. Furthermore, the court ruled that administrators took proper action to discipline the students who violated those policies and meted out fair and appropriate disciplinary treat-ment to Barmore for his role in the fight.

The dismissal was the result of a motion by the district for a summary judgment a decision made by the judge based on the merits of the evidence presented in the case, and reliant on whether or not there is any actual issue for a jury to dispute.

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