LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Parents of children who committed suicide or attempted to do so because they were being bullied at school have sued the school districts in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and nearby Yucapia-Calimesa.
Several parents and their attorney were at a Downtown L.A. press conference Tuesday morning, among them the parents of Rosalie Avila, a 13-year-old who late last year attempted to take her own life because children at her school called her “ugly” and made fun of her teeth. She was taken off life support days later.
“Every time I see somebody else suffering through bullying, it just opens up a fresh wound in our life,” father Freddie Avila told reporters.
He and his wife Charlene are the among three families suing the Los Angeles Unified, San Bernardino City and Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint unified school districts.
“If LAUSD and San Bernardino Unified can’t protect these kids, then maybe they shouldn’t be in the business of being a school district,” said attorney Brian Claypool. The lawsuits claim negligence and failure to safeguard the the children.
A woman identified as Anita said her granddaughter was “doing a little bit better, but she’s still traumatized and scared to go to school.” Her granddaughter attends a charter school in LAUSD and tried to kill herself because she was being bullied. “They would tell her, ‘Why don’t you go kill yourself like Rosie, already? No one cared about her,'” said Anita.
“The principal called me at 8:30 in the night, telling me that she was sorry,” said a woman named Sandra. She said her 14-year-old daughter attempted suicide after being bullied at a San Bernardino middle school.
The three agencies told CBS2 News they were not commenting on the matter due to ongoing litigation.
In December, Rosalie Avila hanged herself after enduring years of bullying at Mesa View Middle School in Yucaipa. After the girl’s death, other concerned parents who revealed their own children’s stories of relentless taunting came out in support of the Avilas.
The LAUSD has held anti-bullying awareness rallies for the last five years. Freddie Avila said Tuesday that’s not enough.
“Every time I said the word ‘bully’ to the principal, he would walk away from you, walk away and lock himself into his office,” said Avila. “They never even responded to my daughter’s death.”