8-Year-Old Gabriel Taye of Cincinnati, Ohio, was bullied for years before killing himself in 2017 — and his parents just had a huge win in their case against the school they sued where the abuse began.
Cornelia Reynolds and Benyam Tate have been permitted by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals to pursue their lawsuit against Carson Elementary for “reckless behavior” that allegedly allowed their third grader to suffer at the hands of his classmates.
His parents say the bullying began when the boy was in first grade and as he got older, the abuse continued to get worse. Other students would even get physical with him. But it was on January 24, 2017, when the violence allegedly reached a breaking point when students knocked him unconscious by throwing him against the bathroom wall.
The lawsuit states how the bullying went back to the three years before Gabriel’s death.
Gabriel was unconscious for seven minutes while passing students walked by, mocked, and kicked him.
No one from the school called 911 and officials waited over an hour to call Gabriel’s mom. When they got through, they claimed Gabriel “fainted” and told her that his “vitals were fine.”
Surveillance footage revealed in the lawsuit how the student who reportedly throttled Gabriel seemed to celebrate after the boy fell to the ground unconscious. And when he was eventually discovered by Assistant Principal Jeffrey McKenzie, the administrator can be seen “just standing there waiting for other people to come.”
And when Reynolds asked Gabriel what happened at school that day, he simply said he fell and hurt his stomach. She then took him to the hospital after he vomited and was unable to go to school. On January 26, his mother sent him back to Carson Elementary.
The lawsuit stated that Reynolds made a “decision she would never had made if she had only known about the attack.” But the bullying did not stop there.
The same day he came back, the two students grabbed his water bottle while he was in the boy’s bathroom and tried to flush it down the toilet. He informed a teacher what happened, but they were unaware about the previous attacks and “did not recognize the seriousness of this incident.”
Gabriel then came home from school that day and killed himself just a few hours later in his bedroom.
“Why Gabe? Why baby? Why did you do it?” his mother allegedly screamed while paramedics took his body away after they were unable to revive his heartbeat.
“These parents had no idea what was going on at Carson Elementary School,” lawyer Jennifer Branch told the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on December 2. They had “no idea how dangerous his third-grade school was.”
In the lawsuit, the parents claimed that officials knew that Carson was a “violent school” and that Gabriel faced “aggressive behavior” for years.
Reynolds as well as Tate claimed the school knew about at least six incidents of bullying throughout Gabriel’s third-grade year but only reported three to his mother. In addition, the lawsuit claims that school officials “covered up” the bullying and withheld information about the extent of the abuse was from his parents. They also never showed footage from the attack in the bathroom to Gabriel’s parents.
The parents’ lawyer, quoting the school’s bullying policy, also informed the court that, “They also know that bullying can lead to suicide.”
“Had Gabe’s parents known the dangers Gabe faced at Carson, they would not have continued to send him to school there,” the lawsuit states.
School officials said the bullying did not follow a “pervasive pattern” and claimed that the six incidents from this past year had not “shared any pattern” or involved “repeated run-ins with the same student.”
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court Appeals ruled how the school had participated in “reckless behavior” that prevented them from receiving governmental immunity for their case. In addition, Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote how the school “prevented Taye’s parents from fully understanding Taye’s horrifying experience at Carson Elementary until it was too late.”
“The truth about what happened to Gabe at Carson Elementary needs to be revealed and shared with all parents,” Branch revealed to the news station. “We have been able to gather testimony and evidence these last few months. Now we can proceed to trial.”
In addition, the family also created a GoFundMe in Gabriel’s honor, which raised well over $20,000.
“Gabriel is dearly loved by his friends and family,” wrote the page’s creator, Julie Ann Rachford. “He is survived by his mommy, Cornelia Reynolds, his daddy, Benyam Taye, and his sister, Eden Taye. He is also survived by many cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.”
They also began the Gabriel B. Taye Foundation to raise awareness about bullying.
“Gabe’s mommy would also like to ask that parents and caregivers listen to your children,” Rachford wrote on the GoFundMe page. “If your child tells you they are being bullied, act fast. Don’t stop reacting, even after notifying the school or the police. You are your child’s first and last advocate.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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