SCHOOL BULLY: Family Sues District

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A Grinnell father is fighting bullying in his son’s elementary school by suing the school district.

With the help of Des Moines Attorney Roxanne Conlin, Matthew Gannaway filed a civil lawsuit against the Grinnell-Newburg School District. It specifically sites the principal, superintendent and counselor at Davis Elementary.

Gannaway says those administrators bullied his 8-year-old son Ethan after he was bullied on the playground by another student.

According to Gannaway, Ethan was bullied for several weeks before he came home and told his parents. However, since the family had only moved to Grinnell a few months before Ethan wasn’t sure of the bully’s name and misidentified him when he reported it to his teacher. Gannaway says that’s when the principal went too far and ended up bullying his son. “They had Ethan sit in a chair and repeat after me, I will not lie over and over again. Ethan was traumatized by it and crying hysterically,” he explained.

The family tried to address the problem with the school, the district, and the state, but the district filed a no trespass order against Mr. Gannaway because the Superintendent allegedly felt threatened by him. 

So the Gannaway’s decided to remove their children from the district and drive them to school 25 miles away.

The ordeal also caused Ethan’s pre-existing cyclic vomiting syndrome to flare up. The condition is aggravated by stress, fear, and anxiety and required Ethan to visit a counselor.

The lawsuit requests punitive damages in hopes of punishing the administrators and preventing it from happening to others. “We hope to make a difference, not only for my child, but for every child in Grinnell, and I hope it spreads everywhere,” Gannaway said.

Channel 13 requested a comment from the school, but the district said the superintendent was the only person that could comment and he was out of town.