A 15-year-old boy who was initially targeted by a false rumor that he was unvaccinated was bullied relentlessly until he took his own life in January, a lawsuit claims.
The suit filed Monday against the Latin School of Chicago alleges administrators at the private college prep school — which charges more than $40,000 annually in tuition — committed “willful failure” to stop the incessant bullying, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Cook County filing named the school, several employees and parents of the alleged bullies as defendants. The late teen, identified as N.B. in the suit, transferred to the school due to its in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic, the complaint states.
A student whose parents are named in the lawsuit then started spreading a rumor that the 10th-grader, Nate Bronstein, was unvaccinated, according to the lawsuit.
Nate actually had been vaccinated, the lawsuit claims, but he was still harassed on a regular basis due to his perceived status. The boy’s parents, Robert and Rosellene Bronstein, even reached out to the other student’s family about the constant badgering, the suit claims.
But the harassment only worsened — with Nate being told by a teacher in class that he was going “nowhere in life,” according to the lawsuit.
The teen was also cyberbullied on Snapchat, where another student urged him to kill himself in mid-December, the suit claims.
Nate met with a school administrator at that point, but none of the students involved in the cyberbullying were disciplined, his parents allege.
Rosellene Bronstein had also contacted a counselor about the bullying, saying she feared her son may hurt himself, but the school downplayed her concerns as “family issues,” the lawsuit claims.
Nate’s mother contacted the school more than 30 times in October and November alone, but administrators allegedly turned a “blind eye” to the family’s pleas for help. The teen also reported the bullying to a school dean, but was disregarded, according to the lawsuit.
One month after Nate was urged to kill himself by another student on Snapchat, his father found him hanging from a noose tied to a shower in a bathroom at the family’s home on Jan. 13, CBS Chicago reported.
Rosellene Bronstein said the school never told her that Nate had requested a meeting with his dean over the alleged Snapchat bullying.
“We would have known, and we would have protected him, and he’d still be here today,” she told the station.
The lawsuit claims the Latin School of Chicago – whose alums reportedly include former first lady Nancy Reagan and former US Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan II – violated a state law requiring schools to investigate reports of bullying and to notify parents of all students involved.
The school, meanwhile, dismissed the allegations as “unfounded claims” while vowing to “vigorously defend” itself in court.
“Our hearts go out to the family, and we wish them healing and peace,” the statement read. “With respect to their lawsuit, however, the allegations of wrongdoing by the school officials are inaccurate and misplaced. The school’s faculty and staff are compassionate people who put students’ interests first, as they did in this instance.”
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or are experiencing a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL for free and confidential crisis counseling. If you live outside the five boroughs, you can dial the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.