LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The William S. Hart Union High School District failed to take basic steps to supervise students on the campus of Saugus High School when a student opened fire on his classmates last November, according to a lawsuit filed by the parents of a 15-year-old girl who was killed.
A wrongful death/negligence lawsuit was filed Monday by Bryan and Cindy Muehlberger, the parents of Gracie Anne Muehlberger, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. The couple is also suing the coroner’s office, alleging they released their daughter’s name before they could notify friends and family members about the tragedy themselves.
The Muehlbergers are seeking unspecified damages.
Gracie Anne and 14-year-old Dominic Blackwell were killed in the Nov. 14 shooting, which wounded three other students. The shooter, 16-year-old Nathan Berhow, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In a statement, the district said it could not comment on pending litigation, but that they continue to grieve with the Muehlberger and Blackwell families.
“In eight short seconds, Gracie’s life and Dominic’s life were taken,” Bryan Muehlberger said. “Our lives, the lives of the Blackwells, the lives of so many young children at this school, their families and our small community were changed forever.”
Plaintiff’s attorney Julie Fieber said parents trust schools to take basic, common-sense steps to keep children stay safe once they come onto campus.
Campus security was supposed to be provided by one unarmed sheriff’s deputy and nine campus supervisors, but none were present at the time of the
shooting, according to the suit.
“The school failed in its duty to ensure that personnel were watching over the campus and students that day,” Fieber said.
In the suit, Fieber said Nathan was an “obviously troubled student who spent nearly an hour standing in a trance-like state in the middle of campus,” even though he was supposed to be in class. According to the lawsuit, the boy hung out in the quad area for about 40 minutes without be questioned from school supervisors, staff, and/or teachers.
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