The Investigators: Bullying lawsuit filed against school district after teen attempted suicide
WEST FELICIANA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - School officials in West Feliciana Parish were served a lawsuit Monday alleging they did nothing about a then 14-year-old boy who reported several allegations of bullying.
The suit was filed Monday morning in the West Feliciana Parish courthouse by attorney Sharon Lee.
"What I want school officials to do is to take action, follow these policies, follow these guidelines so we can stop these unnecessary acts of bullying and perhaps save a child's life," said Lee.
"It hurts to even know that it got that bad," said the victim's father Mark Givens.
To protect the identity of the juvenile, WAFB is not releasing his name. In an interview with WAFB, the parents of the now 15-yr-old boy tried to hold it together while talking about their son's accusations of bullying at West Feliciana High School. The Givens said it started last summer at football practice.
"The acts became more intense and more frequent," said Mark.
Mark said the bullying started with name-calling then pushing, shoving and much worse. One specific incident was when their son got a pass to use the bathroom and had racial slurs hurled his way.
"It was a gang of individuals and they were grabbing on him, pushing on him, calling him names, saying things such as you, 'B**** a** n*****. You're not wanted here. You shouldn't be here.' They grabbed him and threw him into one of the restroom stalls," said Mark.
The Givens said their son was threatened that he if told anyone, they would kill him so his parents say he did not even tell them. But over time, they noticed their son's personality changing, going from the happy go-lucky person he was to a boy who kept to himself and started dressing in all black. Then, there was another incident with their son's backpack.
"He used that backpack to be able to man handle him to the point to where he was going to try and attempt to throw him over the balcony and all the while he's doing this, he's saying, 'You p**** a** n*****. You ought to go kill yourself n*****. You need to die n*****'," said Mark.
Mark and his wife Meosha said Dec 1, 2014 at their home, everyone went to their rooms for the night. Little did they know, their son was at his wit's end with the alleged bullying and tried to end his life.
The next day at school, the Givens said his friend noticed several cuts on his arms and the 15-year-old finally broke down telling his friend. That friend's mom called the Givens. Meosha said she immediately called her son into the room to ask him.
"That's when he broke down and he told me. He said, 'I cut myself,' and so I asked him why did he cut himself?
He said, 'I don't want to live anymore.' I explained to him that I would not live if I didn't have him. I couldn't live. I would simply just exist," said Meosha.
The givens said their son finally told them everything and added he rang the bell repeatedly telling his coaches, teachers and even the assistant principal at West Feliciana High School. The Givens said each time, he was told, "We would look into it," said Mark.
The Givens said they went to the assistant principal after their son attempted suicide, to ask about the bullying. Meosha said he told them, "His words were, 'I had no idea.' Those were his words to me."
The parents said they took their son to a doctor, where they said he was diagnosed with severe depression from bullying.
It's why they finally hired Lee to represent them. Monday, Lee filed the lawsuit suing 18 people, including seven students who allegedly did the bullying. Six of those students are white, one is black.
Lee claims in her suit, school officials failed at their own policy which says "any school employee, whether full-time or part-time, who witnesses or learns of bullying, hazing or similar behavior from a student or parent shall report the incident to the principal or his/her designee."
"When they learned of bullying, they should have reported that to a school official. This never happened," said Lee.
Meosha said she filed the suit because, "I felt like after dealing with what we've been dealing with, they were just there to get a check that they don't care. They're just there to earn their pay.
For one day, if they could put themselves in our shoes and look at it as if that was their child and think about what they would have done and what they would expect and then ask themselves, 'Why didn't I do it?'
"I want to ensure that individuals are held accountable for their actions," said Mark.
WAFB called the assistant principal of West Feliciana High School and was forwarded to the school board. The superintendent sent an email in response reading, "I am currently out of town. However, we are not able to comment on possible litigation."
As for the boy, the Givens said they pulled their son out of West Feliciana High.
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