Parents test school liability in bullying and child suicideAugust 12, 2017 1:06pm

CINCINNATI (AP) — The parents of an 8-year-old Ohio boy who hanged himself from his bunk bed with a necktie want school officials held responsible, testing the issue of school liability in suicides blamed on bullying.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Gabriel Taye against Cincinnati Public Schools and school officials cites repeated examples of Gabriel and others being bullied at his elementary school. They contend school officials knew about the bullying but were "deliberately indifferent," allowing a "treacherous school environment."

Knowledge of harassment and failure to do something are among elements set out in a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling for school liability cases.

"The deliberate indifference standard set forth (by the Supreme Court) sets a high bar for plaintiffs," a 2016 opinion by a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says. "It requires only that school administrators respond to known peer harassment in a manner that is not 'clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances.'"

The ruling rejected an appeal by a Tennessee family that sued a school district over two years of alleged relentless bullying that forced their son to change schools.

Cincinnati school officials have said that the boy told staff he fainted the day his parents say Gabriel was knocked unconscious at a school bathroom and that he never said he was bullied or assaulted. He killed himself two days later, on Jan. 26.

Legal experts say such lawsuits seem to be coming more common amid increasing public awareness campaigns on youth bullying. A 2015 federal survey estimated that about 21 percent of U.S. students, ages 12-18, said they had been bullied.

Federal authorities say they are still learning about the links between school bullying and suicide , saying bullying increases the risk of suicidal behavior but that the majority of bullying cases don't result in suicide, suicide attempts, or thoughts of suicide.

Courts have shown reluctance to increase the demands on school officials to quell bullying. The Supreme Court has urged courts against second-guessing school administrators' disciplinary decisions, to allow them flexibility they need to deal with children who are still learning how to interact appropriately.

The federal cases often take years to resolve, unless the two sides reach a settlement. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by parents of a 14-year-old Missouri boy who killed himself in 2013 after being bullied was settled for $300,000 two years ago. Earlier this year, a Mississippi school district settled for undisclosed terms a lawsuit by parents of a seventh-grader who died of injuries from alleged bullying.

A 2015 lawsuit filed against nearby Fairfield City Schools in Ohio and officials by the parents of a girl who fatally shot herself after being bullied repeatedly, including frequent racial and sexual insults, is scheduled for federal trial in Cincinnati in early 2018.

Plaintiffs in such cases have often said that among their reasons for going to court is the hope it will bring changes that will protect other students from bullying.

"We want to open a Pandora's box, we want to push against the hornet's nest," said Bruce Nagel, attorney for the family of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who killed herself in June, allegedly after months of bullying by classmates. "We want to end this forever."

Mallory Grossman's family has said they plan to sue her school district.


AP News Researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York and AP writer David Porter in Roseland, New Jersey, contributed to this story.


Follow Dan Sewell at

For some of his other recent stories:

Page 1 of 1

More Stories Like This

Federal court: Arkansas can block Planned Parenthood moneyA federal appeals court panel has ruled that Arkansas can block Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood over videos secretly recorded by an anti-abortion group
This frame from video provided by KABC-TV shows Andrew Garcia, 21, entering court where he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for beating to death Xinran Ji, a University of Southern California graduate student from China, in Los Angeles Superior Court Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. Songbo Ji, father of slain student Xinran Ji, not shown, sobbed as he spoke about the loss of his son in a victim impact statement at the sentencing of Garcia, one of five assailants in the 2014 murder. (KABC-TV via AP)
Man gets life in prison for Chinese student's beating death
Trump to rally supporters next Tuesday in PhoenixPresident Donald Trump plans to rally supporters in Phoenix next week
ACLU petitions for immediate release of detained Afghan manAdvocates have petitioned for the immediate release of an Afghan man who has been detained since he tried to enter the United States on a special visa for people who helped the U.S. military
University of Florida says no to white nationalist eventThe University of Florida is denying a request by a group headed by white supremacist Richard Spencer to rent space on the campus for a September event
Christel Ward speaks at a news conference Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, outside of the federal courthouse in Nashville, Tenn., about a lawsuit filed on her behalf over a program that awarded 30-day jail sentence reductions to inmates who underwent vasectomies or birth control implants. Ward says she underwent the implant and never was awarded the time off. The lawsuit says the policy amounted to eugenics. (AP Photo/Jonathan Mattise)
Lawsuit: Birth control for sentencing breaks violated rights

Related Searches

Related Searches