The parents of an 8-year-old student who killed himself after suffering constant bullying are ruled by a federal appeals committee who can proceed with a lawsuit against the Cincinnati school district alleging wrongful death and other charges.
The appeals committee of the US Sixth Circuit Court of three judges said Gabriel Tye’s parents had found “reckless behavior” that prevented school officials from obtaining state immunity to handle the case.
The lawsuit’s allegations also accuse school officials of willful and negligent cause of emotional distress and failure to report child abuse. The lawsuit alleges that Tai was bullied in his elementary school starting in grade one, with the bullying escalating in grade three.
Other students punched and kicked him in the assaults he fainted by throwing him in the bathroom wall, his parents said in the lawsuit.
His parents said he stayed home sick the next day, went back to school and was bullied again in the bathroom by students who took a water bottle and tried to flush it down the toilet.
He committed suicide that evening in his bedroom.
Tye’s parents, Cornelia Reynolds and Benjam Tate, say school officials either misrepresented their son’s bullying attacks or failed to report them. The court ruling states that officials at Carson Elementary did not call 911 when Tai was dismissed, failed to punish the bullies, did not inform teachers of problems, did not supervise the bathroom despite repeated bullying, and withheld information.
Judge Bernice Boy Donald wrote, “They ultimately prevented Tai’s parents from fully understanding Tai’s terrifying experience at Carson Elementary School until it was too late.” The opinion indicated that the school’s safety guidelines warned that suicide could result from bullying.
“This is a preliminary decision based on the plaintiffs ‘side of the story and on the assumption that everything they say in their complaint is correct,” the defendants’ lawyer, Aaron Herzig, said via email. “However, it does not reflect the facts as it developed during the case.”
He refused to disclose whether there were other challenges to the ruling that upheld a lower court.
“The truth about what happened to Gabby at Carson Elementary School should be revealed and shared with all parents,” Tye’s mother’s attorney Jennifer Branch said via e-mail. We have been able to collect testimonials and evidence in the past few months. Now we can start the trial. “