Latin School student died by suicide after ‘increasingly cruel’ bullying ignored by adults, suit seeking $100M alleges
Students spread a false rumor that the boy was unvaccinated, the suit against the private Gold Coast high school said. Administrators “willfully turned a blind eye” despite the boy’s pleas for help, the suit said.
A 15-year-old boy died by suicide in January after “increasingly cruel” bullying by his peers at the prestigious Latin School of Chicago, his family alleged in a lawsuit this week.
The boy’s parents alleged administrators at the private Gold Coast high school “willfully turned a blind eye” despite the boy’s pleas for help as he was “tormented on a regular basis” by other kids.
The 66-page lawsuit, filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court by the boy’s parents Robert and Rosellene Bronstein, names Latin School, several teachers and staff, and parents of the alleged bullies.
The student, identified in court documents as N.B., had transferred to Latin months earlier from Francis Parker School because Latin offered in-person learning during the pandemic. But he immediately “was subjected to persistent and increasingly cruel forms of bullying, cyberbullying, hate speech and other harassment that caused him severe anxiety and depression,” the suit said.
Another boy at Latin spread a false rumor that N.B. was unvaccinated, and students started to harass him about his vaccination status even though he had been inoculated, according to the complaint. Later he was bullied by students on Snapchat — including one who sent him a message to kill himself — and a teacher told him in class that he was going “nowhere in life,” the lawsuit said.
The complaint alleged teachers, counselors and administrators ignored and refused to investigate concerns shared by the boy and his parents despite the mother reaching out to the school over 30 times in October and November alone, including at one point to share her fear that her son would hurt himself. N.B. met with administrators in December but no students were disciplined, the suit says. He died by suicide in mid-January at his home.
The lawsuit alleged the school broke its own policies by failing to address the harassment complaints and broke state law that requires schools to look into any allegations of bullying. The suit also accused a dean and some members of Latin’s board of conspiring to hide information about the case from the full board, the authorities and the Bronstein family.
The family is seeking $100 million in damages.
Latin School officials said the community is grieving the “tragic and untimely passing” of one of its students. But the school denied the claims, saying in a statement “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. While we are not, at this time, going to comment on any specific allegation in this difficult matter, the school will vigorously defend itself, its faculty and its staff against these unfounded claims.”