The family of a 15-year-old boy who committed suicide is suing the late teen’s high school, saying it failed to act after he was targeted by a false rumor about his vaccination status.
What are the details?
Parents Robert and Rosellene Bronstein said that their son, 15-year-old Nate Bronstein, took his own life in January after months of bullying, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday.
The Bronsteins filed the suit against the Latin School of Chicago on Monday, alleging that the private school’s administrators committed “willful failure” in protecting their son from being “tormented on a regular basis.”
According to the suit, at least one student began spreading the rumor that Nate was unvaccinated. Though the teen was vaccinated, his parents said, other students harassed the teen over what was perceived to be his vaccination status.
Nate was said to have endured months of bullying, both on Snapchat and in school — reportedly being told by a teacher that he was going “nowhere in life” — before the teen set up a meeting with the dean of the elite school in an attempt to stop the harassment.
Administrators reportedly failed to discipline those named in the bullying — even though the teen’s mother contacted the school more than 30 times in two months — and instead, the intensity and frequency, reportedly, only increased. Rosellene added that at least one of her son’s peers advised him to kill himself in the weeks leading up to his suicide.
“Rosellene Bronstein had also been in communication with a school counselor about the bullying,” the outlet reported. “At one point, she told the counselor she believed her son might hurt himself and asked for a recommendation for a psychiatrist.” Her concerns, according to the report, were dismissed as “family issues.”
Weeks later on Jan. 13, Nate’s father found the teen hanging from a noose tied to a shower stall in the family’s home.
The Bronsteins’ suit also alleges that after their son’s death, Head of School Randall Dunn and certain board members “conspired to withhold all of the above information from law enforcement authorities, from the full Latin Board, from other constituents of Latin, and from [Nate’s] family.”
Further, the suit alleges, the school violated state law requiring schools to investigate reports of harassment and to notify parents of all students involved in related incidents, and maintains that the school has allowed a culture of bullying “as documented in an Instagram account that highlights alleged instances of bullying, harassment, and hate speech.”
The family’s complaint, filed in Cook County, names the school, several of its employees, and parents as being complicit in the teen’s death.
The suit is seeking damages in the amount of $100,000,000.
“My son was so alone,” Rosellene said in a release about the suit. “Not only were the administrators who were supposed to protect him ignoring his cries for help, but they had the self-serving gall to try to protect their own reputations after his death rather than just having the decency of being honest with his grieving family. This is a legal and moral failure that has caused us indescribable pain and agony.”
What has the school said?
The school said that the Bronsteins’ allegations are nothing more than “unfounded claims” and promised to “vigorously defend” itself from the suit in court.
“Our hearts go out to the family, and we wish them healing and peace,” a statement from a school spokesperson read. “With respect to their lawsuit, however, the allegations of wrongdoing by the school officials are inaccurate and misplaced. The school’s faculty and staff are compassionate people who put students’ interests first, as they did in this instance.”
After son’s suicide following relentless cyberbullying, parents say school could have done more