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Family of bullied teen who died after student punched him reaches historic $27M settlement

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  9 months ago  •  9 comments

By:   Minyvonne Burke

Family of bullied teen who died after student punched him reaches historic $27M settlement
The family of a 13-year-old boy who died after two of his classmates attacked him at lunch will receive a $27 million settlement from a Southern California school district, according to the family's attorneys, who said it is the largest school bullying settlement in U.S. history.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


The family of a 13-year-old boy who died after two of his classmates attacked him at lunch will receive a $27 million settlement from a Southern California school district, according to the family's attorneys, who said it is the largest school bullying settlement in U.S. history.

Juana and Felipe Salcedo, the guardians of Diego Stolz, sued the Moreno Valley Unified School District after he died in September 2019, claiming officials ignored several complaints they made in 2018 and 2019 to administrators at Landmark Middle School that Diego was being bullied. They became his guardians after both of his parents died.

The case was settled Wednesday.

"This lawsuit has put schools on notice to find ways to effectively deal with bullying and to enact real anti-bullying policies," attorney Neil Gehlawat said in a statement. "Although his family's grief can never be taken away, we believe real change will come and there will be a renewed focus on anti-bullying programs across the nation."

A district spokesperson had no comment for the media.

Diego died nine days after a student sucker-punched him at lunch, attorneys Gehlawat and Dave Ring said in a news release. He fell and hit his head on a concrete pillar. Another student punched him in the face while he was on the ground, they said.

Cellphone video released by the attorneys showed Diego standing with his hands at his side. The family's attorneys said that was a "clear indication that he did not want to fight, and would not escalate the situation." A boy is seen in the video swinging at Diego. A second boy also swings and punches him in the head, causing him to fall. The first boy then rushes toward Diego and hits him again, the video shows.

Diego was rushed to a hospital for a traumatic brain injury and placed on life support, the attorneys said. He never regained consciousness, and he died Sept. 25, 2019.

The two teenagers involved, who were 14 at the time, entered the equivalent of guilty pleas in juvenile court to involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, The Associated Press reported. They spent 47 days in juvenile custody and were ordered to undergo anger management therapy.

Diego's guardians say the fatal encounter wasn't the first time he had been bullied. On Sept. 12, 2019, he went to his science teacher for help after he was sucker-punched in the head, the news release says.

"The teacher informed the Assistant Principal that day; she claimed she would review the security footage to find the perpetrators, but she did not," the family's attorneys said.

The next day, the Salcedos' adult daughter went with Diego to speak with the assistant principal. The assistant principal told her that she knew who the alleged bullies were and that the students would be suspended, according to the news release. The assistant principal also said she would switch around class schedules so Diego would not have classes with the bullies, but she never did, the attorneys said.

The family alleged in the lawsuit that the district has "a long history" of failing to protect students who are being bullied. They also said the district failed to enact effective safety procedures to protect the students.

School district Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora said in a letter to parents Wednesday that the district has made several changes regarding anti-bullying since Diego's death. Some of the changes include "a district-wide centralized online bullying form" and classroom posters that define bullying and how to report bullying, Kedziora said.

"On behalf of the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education, we want you to know that we truly care about each and every student and staff member in our district. The news of Diego's death was not something we took lightly. The safety and well-being of our students will remain our top priority," Kedziora continued.

The family will "forever be heartbroken" by Diego's death but hopes his story "brings about change in school districts across the country," their attorney said.

Associated Press contributed.


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CB
Professor Principal
1  CB    9 months ago

Sigh. jrSmiley_124_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
2  Buzz of the Orient    9 months ago

It's good to see that SOMETHING is starting to be done about bullying.  When I was in public school I was beaten up by a few of the other students for the only reason that I was of a different religion, and one of only 3 students in the school who was.  So I went to the principal to complain and he struck me on the palm with a ruler for "snitching".  My parents didn't sue - it would have been a waste of their time and money. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1  Vic Eldred  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    9 months ago

It seems so simple. Teachers must see it.

Why do teachers ignore it?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
2.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1    9 months ago

Maybe they're concerned that they'll get into some kind of trouble if they do anything about it.  Not every teacher is like "Sir" in To Sir, With Love.  I loved teaching English here. but I didn't have to deal with a school board. 

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
3  Ronin2    9 months ago

27 million?

I wish I went to public school now. I am sure I would still be bullied- and my father was the type that made school teachers and administration tremble in fear. Wouldn't need 27 million; but for years worth of bullying and physical torture that the system allowed 15 million (1 for each year I was in it) would be nice. Though being a white (in looks), straight, male from a middle class family would have worked against me I am sure. 

As for anything being done. Don't hold your breath. The tax payers will be the ones suffering the 27 million. What the school system can't get back in taxes; will be covered in the form of cuts to the school systems sports and other programs. So the students will suffer. 

Until public schools change from indoctrination centers meant to process kids and getting paid for promoting them up the grades and graduating (regardless if they know the material or not). 

 
 
 
Jack_TX
Professor Quiet
3.1  Jack_TX  replied to  Ronin2 @3    9 months ago
27 million?

Absolutely.

Complete neglect of their responsibility to protect students.

As for anything being done. Don't hold your breath. The tax payers will be the ones suffering the 27 million. 

No, the liability insurance company is getting tagged for most of the $27m, which will result in the insurers stepping in where the inept school administrators have not.   You won't be able to get liability insurance for a school district unless you get your shit together and protect the kids in your care.  They'll start mandating strict adherence to new policies.... you know.... the kind of shit professionals in the private sector do all the time.  

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
4  Greg Jones    9 months ago

 "They spent 47 days in juvenile custody and were ordered to undergo anger management therapy."

  jrSmiley_78_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Ronin2
Professor Quiet
4.1  Ronin2  replied to  Greg Jones @4    9 months ago

Can't be too tough on criminals. Otherwise they might not be able to continue their criminal behavior.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
4.2  Texan1211  replied to  Greg Jones @4    9 months ago
"They spent 47 days in juvenile custody and were ordered to undergo anger management therapy."  

That really hit home to me.

Not excusing the school from responsibility in any way, shape, or fashion, but WTF did the 'judicial' system DO?

Why not charge them as adults?

Why not being kept in custody at least until they are 18?

Hell, the 2 bullies will probably go right back to doing it since they virtually got away with murder.

The school should have at least suspended the bullies for the first offense but it says the vice principal didn't even look to see who it was.

 
 

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