Two families, one in New Jersey and the other in Ohio, are suing their local school districts after their children committed suicide. In both cases, the parents say school officials ignored relentless bullying that contributed to their children’s deaths.
Mallory Grossman, a 12-year-old sixth grader in Rockaway Township, N.J., died in June. She endured “vile and malicious” attacks on social media, according to the family’s attorney. Her mother, Dianne Grossman, said she told school administrators about the bullying, but they did nothing to stop it. In filing the lawsuit, attorney Bruce Nagel said the family hoped to “open a Pandora’s box” and “push against the hornet’s nest” to make sure no other child has to endure what Mallory went through. Nagel also told reporters the family might sue the parents of Mallory’s tormentors.
Gabriel Taye, an 8-year-old third grader at Carson Elementary School in Cincinnati, hung himself in January. After he died, his mother found out he’d been knocked unconscious following a bullying incident two days earlier. After being struck in the back of the head outside a bathroom, Gabriel lay on the ground for about seven minutes before anyone helped him. School officials told Cornelia Reynolds her son had fainted.
Gabriel’s death drew national attention in part because of his age. The Cincinnati coroner expressed doubt a child his age could even know what suicide meant. Partly in response to Reynolds’ plea for help, officials agreed to open Gabriel’s coffin to retrieve a tablet buried with him. After looking over the device, officials declined to change the cause of death ruling. But Reynolds maintains Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) bears the blame for her son’s suicide.
“If CPS had been honest with her about what happened in the bathroom, how long he had been unconscious, and the dangerous school environment Gabe had to navigate each day of third grade, she would never had let him return to Carson,” attorney Jennifer Branch said in a statement.
— by Leigh Jones