A California teen has won a lawsuit against her school district after they failed to provide adequate protection for the middle school girl who was “bullied, tormented and verbally assaulted” by fellow teens who also started a school-wide petition to end her life.
The El Segundo Unified School District was found by a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury to be negligent in supervising and training its employees which “was a factor in causing harm to then-El Segundo Middle School student Eleri Irons, who was 13 when the bullying started, according to court records,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The lawsuit filed in 2019 alleged that Irons “suffered PTSD, cut herself and sought refuge in the school nurse’s office nearly every lunch break.” Teachers and staff were also accused of failing to act when a petition titled “Let’s kill Eleri Irons” was found to be circulating throughout the school.
When Irons’ parents beseeched school officials for help, they “dismissed the concerns as drama over a teen love triangle,” the teen’s attorney Christa Ramey told the Times.
(Photo: Crista Ramey)
Ramey reportedly said that former El Segundo Middle School principal Principal Melissa Gooden allegedly lied when she claimed she had called the police as soon as she found out about the death threat in June 2018.
“She didn’t call the police that day. She attempted to make it seem like they did everything they could, but in reality, during the entire year, they didn’t do anything,” Ramey said, according to the LA Times. “They never investigated a single claim of bullying made by my client.”
“Every teacher, counselor and administrator who touched this case failed not only my client, but also the aggressors and every other student at the school,” Ramey said in her statement published by the Times. “Bullying is to be taken seriously and the administrators are culpable when they don’t stop it.”
At least two students involved in the bullying and the petition were suspended, but nothing resulted from a police report that was eventually filed by the district trying to cover its back.
El Segundo schools Supt. Melissa Moore said the district has since added two student safety assistant positions at two elementary schools and has implemented a district-wide plan for student safety.
“As a school district, we respect the ruling of the court and acknowledge the findings of the lawsuit,” Moore said in a statement to the New York Post.
“The next steps are up to our legal counsel. As we move forward, we are committed to self-improvement and doing everything we can to prevent bullying in our schools,” she added.
Irons, who was 13 at the time and is now 18, said she has forgiven her bullies but remains traumatized by the experience.
“I am so thankful that I have been able to share my experience and to actually be taken seriously so that the next time a child asks for help, the school will address it the way they should have for me.”
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