Deratany speaks out on Mangus New York legal case
Jay Paul Deratany, Chicago attorney, to journalist Sam Worley"Gay and lesbian kids don't feel safe coming out," he said. "A duty of a school is to provide a safe environment to learn."
Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany said in an interview with Windy City Times today that he believes it is a duty of schools to create safe environments for all students.
He has taken the case of Now Public editor Rhonda Mangus involving her gay teen son Michael, and the New York Supreme Court, on a pro bono basis.
Michael was 13 in 2005 when he left attendance at North Tonawanda High School in Niagara County, New York, after receiving bullying treatment and a written death threat due to his gay identity. After removing her son from the school, Mangus was charged with neglect and entered into the data base of offenders in New York State, despite the fact that 2 separate physicians had not ruled that the youth should return to that environment.
An appeal this winter failed to remand the charge. An attorney in New York has remarked that the charge against Mangus was likely made to ward off a legal suit against the school district.
Deratany's firm is seeking the help of New York legal counsel which they will work in tandem with, and are also interested in input from Lambda Legal's New York Chapter. Lamda Legal is a national network of gay advocacy legal experts and community advocates.
Deratany is a high profile Chicago attorney specializing in the rights of birth injured children and their families, and has won multi-million dollar settlements for his clients. He is also a prominent Chicagoan known for his political involvements in Cook County, his human rights advocacy, and his philanthropy.
Deratany is the attorney who is currently representing the Duckett family in the pending lawsuit against CNN's Nancy Grace.
Chicago attorney Jay Paul Deratany—whose practice, The Deratany Firm, chiefly handles personal injury litigation—has agreed to take on the case of a mother who removed her gay son from school after repeated bullying incidents. That case, in which mother Rhonda Mangus was charged with educational neglect for attempting to home-school her son, Michael, was brought and is currently under appeal in New York state. The Manguses live in North Tonawanda, N.Y.
Deratany, a prominent local figure who has run for Cook County Board of Review, told Windy City Times that he learned about the Manguses through his "computer guy." After hearing the details of the case, he said that he agreed to take it on pro bono.
When Michael Mangus was 13 years old, Deratany said, he came out to his classmates—only to be "taunted severely" for it. The Tonawanda News reported that Michael Mangus was the subject of "chronic physical and emotional abuse by his peers," including "at least one death threat."
His mother Rhonda, a substitute teacher at the school, eventually decided to home-school him. "What she wanted was a safe school environment," Deratany said.
Instead she found herself charged with "educational neglect"—the charge which is now being appealed. One important issue that the case revolves around, said Deratany, is the security of students.