A 15-year-old boy has killed himself after bullies spread a false rumor that he was unvaccinated, according to a new lawsuit against the Latin School of Chicago.
The teenager, identified only as N.B. in the lawsuit, took his own life on January 13 after being “tormented on a regular basis.”
Robert and Rosellene Bronstein, the boy’s parents, allege that the school failed to do anything to stop the harassment, despite numerous complaints from them and their son.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the lawsuit names the school, a number of employees and parents of the alleged bullies.
“A student at the school, whose parents are named in the suit, spread a false rumor that the boy was unvaccinated, the suit alleges. Though he was vaccinated, the boy was harassed about his perceived vaccination status,” the suit says, per the report.
The parents reportedly reached out to the family of the student, but the bullying continued to escalate.
“He was told by a teacher in front of a class that he was going ‘nowhere in life,’ the suit alleges, and was cyberbullied in a group text message thread by members of the junior varsity basketball team and on the social media app Snapchat. A Snapchat message circulated around the school said of the boy: ‘Ur a terrible person,’” the report says. “On Dec. 13, a student sent a Snapchat message to the boy encouraging him to kill himself, the suit alleges.”
In the complaint, the Bronstein’s claim that the school violated a state law requiring schools to investigate bullying claims and speak to the parents of any students involved.
The teen went to the school for help, but none of the bullies were disciplined. His mother contacted the school over 30 times from October through November. She told them that she was worried her son was going to hurt himself.
In a statement obtained by the Tribune, the school said that the claims in the lawsuit are unfounded, and though it “deeply grieves” the death of the student, it plans to “vigorously defend itself.”
“The allegations of wrongdoing by the school officials are inaccurate and misplaced,” the statement read. “The school’s faculty and staff are compassionate people who put students’ interests first, as they did in this instance.”
N.B.’s mother claims that the school attempted to hide their failures after his death.
“My son was so alone,” Rosellene Bronstein said in a statement. “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.”