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Lawsuit against a CA school district raises questions over a school’s responsibility in protecting students from bullying




Students from the Yves Klein high school attend an anti-bullying meeting with headmaster Florence Gauthier and gendarmerie officer Christophe Olivier on March 6, 2017 in La Colle-sur-Loup, southern France.
Students from the Yves Klein high school attend an anti-bullying meeting with headmaster Florence Gauthier and gendarmerie officer Christophe Olivier on March 6, 2017 in La Colle-sur-Loup, southern France.
YANN COATSALIOU/AFP/Getty Images

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A 13-year-old girl who her family said was a victim of school bullying recently took her own life.

Now, the parents of Rosalie Avila are suing the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District, where Avila attended 8th grade, for wrongful death. They allege that school administrators did not do enough to protect Avila from being bullied.

Avila hanged herself on November 28 and was taken off life support in December. Her family said that she was relentlessly bullied and that the bullies had apparently circulated a video calling Avila “ugly”.

According to the lawsuit, the Avila family repeatedly contacted the school district about the abuse targeting the 13-year-old and charged that the district failed to step in.

The Yucaipa-Calimesa school district is cooperating with the investigation and issued the following statement:

     “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Avila family. Our students, teachers, staff and the communities are mourning the loss of Rosalie as well. Yucaipa-Calimesa School District is committed to working with its students and the community on academics, student safety and well-being. We strive every day to be a safe, supportive and engaging learning environment. We will continue to raise awareness and work with students and the community to support our children. The issue of suicide awareness and prevention is very important to discuss and address as a community.

We are cooperating fully with the Sheriff’s office as it conducts its investigation. We are also conducting our own internal investigation. Given that these efforts are ongoing, and due to our commitment to protecting the privacy of our students and their families, we cannot share any details at this time.”

In light of the lawsuit, AirTalk looks at the legal issues stemming from the suit.

Guests:

Alex Rojas, chief operations officer for Siembra Mobile Inc, a company offering school districts software to help high school counselors provide support to students; he is the former superintendent of the Bassett Unified School District, located in the San Gabriel Valley and serving some unincorporated parts of L.A. County and portions of the City of Industry, La Puente and Whittier

Greg Keating, professor of law at USC and an expert in liability and tort law