The family of an Ohio boy who killed himself in January filed a lawsuit against the child’s school system on Monday, Aug. 7, accusing it of concealing critical details about a bullying episode that took place just two days before his suicide, ABC reported.
Gabriel Taye, 8, hung himself with a necktie in his Cincinnati, Ohio, home on Jan. 26. Two days prior, Gabriel appeared to be the subject of a bullying attack in a school bathroom recorded on video. School officials withheld that footage until May.
Gabriel’s family members believe the incident led to his suicide and say that officials at the Carson Elementary School “recklessly and deliberately withheld vital information” about the attack.
Gabriel, a third-grader, was assaulted and left unconscious for more than seven minutes, family members said in accusing the school of the coverup.
The lawsuit states that school officials “deliberately withheld vital information from his mother, including that he had been assaulted, lost consciousness for a considerable period of time, and was at risk of a serious head injury. Defendants informed his mother only that Gabe had fainted in the boys’ restroom and had recovered completely.”
By not revealing what had happened to Gabriel “prevented his mother from seeking appropriate treatment. Had she known of the extreme violence at Carson, she never would have continued to send him to school there,” the suit asserts.
Cincinnati Public Schools released surveillance video of the January incident in May. Since the video recording skips frames, it is difficult to say if other students attacked him or were simply trying to nudge him to see if he is ok while he lay motionless on the floor for over seven minutes.
Back in May, Mary Ronan, who retired as Cincinnati Public Schools superintendent earlier this month, said the video shows only that Gabriel fainted and it doesn’t demonstrate any connection to his death. Ronan also denied the accusation that the boy was attacked.
Ronan, Carson School Principal Ruthenia Jackson and Assistant Principal Jeffrey McKenzie, along with the Cincinnati Board of Education, are named as defendants in the family’s 41-page lawsuit.
Jackson was assigned to another school in the fall and McKenzie has resigned.
A statement from the Cincinnati Public Schools released in response to the lawsuit says the death is “tragic,” adding that “now that litigation has been initiated, we offer no further comments regarding this matter at this time.”
“As we have stated previously pertaining to Gabriel’s passing, our hearts are broken by the loss of this child, and our thoughts are with his parents and extended family. He was an outstanding young man, and this is a great loss for his family and our school community,” the school said Monday.
The coroner ruled Gabriel’s death a suicide. Prosecutors investigated his death and closed the case without charges.