Gabriel Taye was ruled to more bullying at Carson School on the day the third-grader did suicide in 2017, his lawyers claimed in court Wednesday.
“Two pupils accosted Gabriel in the boys’ bathroom, took Gabriel’s water bottle and tried to flush it down a toilet in front of him,” the lawyers wrote. “Gabriel told his teacher.”
Taye’s lawyers, who are suing Cincinnati Public Schools and school administrators in federal court, allege the 8-year-old went home after that Jan. 27 attacks and quickly hung himself.
“The school community still, three years later, has not told us what occurred,” said Jennifer Branch, the lawyer for Taye’s estate.
Two days earlier, a student hurt Taye unconscious in another assault in the school restroom, Branch claims. That assault was caught by a school surveillance camera, and Branch says Taye was lying disabled on the floor for seven minutes later. The family’s lawsuit alleges school officials covered up the assault and “rampant” bullying in the school.
Branch said they want Carson administrators to tell what they know regarding the Jan. 27 attacks and more.
“What the principal identified, what the assistant principal knew on how he was bullied and how he was injured throughout his whole career at Carson Elementary,” Branch said.
“They didn’t keep the video of that occurrence in the bathroom, and we don’t know who the boys were that were involved,” Branch told.
Lawyers for CPS are asking the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to reject wrongful-death claims upon the principal and vice-principal at the time. A prior attempt to get the whole case thrown out was rejected.
CPS lawyers say allowing the case to go ahead opens schools and school officials to broad liability on actions out of their control.
“The school district is disputing, ‘Wait, don’t let this case go ahead … we’ll get sued all the time,’” Branch said. “And I said, ‘Great. You should be sued if you’re wrapping this up.’”
Police examined Taye’s death but did not file charges. After seeing the clips, Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco examined the initial post-mortem that made no connection to bullying. In July 2017, Sammarco ended the search without attaching mention of bullying to his death certificate.
Two days next, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office stated that no charges would be filed.
The suit signs as defendants the Cincinnati Board of Education, since-retired Superintendent Mary Ronan, Principal Ruthenia Jackson, and Assistant Principal Jeffrey McKenzie.
CPS didn’t issue the videotape of the Jan. 25 disturbance until four months next. When it did, Ronan said the video reveals Taye fainted and doesn’t demonstrate any link to his death. She also rejected the accusation that Taye was assaulted.