Mean Girls Meets Miss Porter's?

Student at Elite Connecticut Boarding School Files Lawsuit

They called themselves "Oprichniki," the name of a Russian attack squad notorious for torturing suspected enemies of a 16th-century czar. Their target was a fellow student at Miss Porter's, a private boarding school in Farmington. 

After months of harassment, a cruel clique at the elite all-girls school wore Tatum Bass down so much that her parents traveled from South Carolina to comfort her, and two doctors advised her to leave school for a while, Bass said.

Then, according to a scenario described in court papers, her tormentors delivered a parting blow: Returning to her dorm room one afternoon to pack a few possessions, the senior found her belongings crammed into a corner and a "For Rent" sign placed on her bed.

Two weeks later, Bass and her parents fought back. They sued the school and its headmaster in federal court  to be reinstated and for unspecified financial damages.

Their lawsuit alleges Miss Porter's School failed to protect her from the bullying and notified Bass in November that she would be expelled.

Katherine Windsor, the school's headmaster and a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a written statement Wednesday that it would be "inappropriate for us to discuss this matter publicly."

None of Bass' fellow students are named in the lawsuit, which says the harassment stemmed from her proposal as the student body's activities coordinator to hold a multi-school prom with nearby schools. The bullying included harassing text messages and widespread claims and taunts that she was "retarded" because she has attention-deficit disorder, the lawsuit says.

Miss Porter's, founded in 1843, is among the nation's most selective and exclusive boarding schools. The annual tuition is nearly $43,000 for boarding students and about $33,000 for "day students" who live within driving distance of the campus.

Bass says that in the depths of the harassment, she uncharacteristically cheated on an art history test -- then was so racked with guilt that she approached the headmaster to confess, only to encounter stepped-up bullying when she returned from her three-day suspension.

The expulsion threat occurred soon afterward, when she discovered the school had blocked her from communicating with teachers or handing in class assignments by freezing her Intranet and e-mail access, the lawsuit says.

The school deemed her absences "unexcused," citing the time away from campus and "violations of school rules" as reasons for the pending expulsion.

Learn more about Miss Porter's here.  

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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