Parents of bullied 8-year-old who died of suicide can sue school district, court rules

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The parents of a bullied 8-year-old Ohio student who died by suicide can move forward with a lawsuit against school officials for wrongful death, a panel ruled.

The three-judge panel of the 6th US Circuit Court Appeals said Gabriel Taye’s parents had established Cincinnati Public School officials acted “recklessly” in handling the bullying — and rejected the district’s claim for governmental immunity in the case.

In the court ruling Tuesday, Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote that the district “ultimately, prevented Taye’s parents from fully understanding Taye’s horrifying experience at Carson Elementary until it was too late.”

His parents, Cornelia Reynolds and Benyam Taye, claim in their suit that Carson Elementary School administrators either misrepresented or failed to inform them of bullying incidents before he took his own life on Jan. 26.

The suit alleges that the bullying started when Gabriel was in first grade, but grew worse when he entered third grade.

On Jan. 24, 2017, other students allegedly knocked him unconscious by throwing him against a bathroom wall, the suit says.

He stayed home sick the next day, only to return to school Jan. 26 and be tormented in the bathroom by students who took his water bottle and tried to flush it down the toilet, according to his parents. He killed himself that evening in his bedroom.

Jennifer Branch, attorney for Gabriel’s mother, said “the truth about what happened to Gabe at Carson Elementary needs to be revealed and shared with all parents.”

“We have been able to gather testimony and evidence these last few months. Now we can proceed to trial,” she said.

The defendants’ attorney, Aaron Herzig, declined to say whether there would be further appeals of a ruling.

“This is a preliminary decision based on plaintiffs’ side of the story and assuming that everything they say in their complaint is true,” the defendants’ attorney, Aaron Herzig, said. “However, it does not reflect the facts as they have developed throughout this case.”

With Post wires

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