In January 2017, eight-year-old Gabriel Taye ended his life at home after being knocked unconscious by a school bully. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the late Carson Elementary School third-grader family has now been awarded $3 million after a four-year legal between them and the Cincinnati Public Schools district.
“In honor of Gabe, his family is using this settlement to protect current and future CPS students,” said the family’s lawyer, Al Gerhardstein. “We will make sure these reforms take root and end bullying throughout the CPS system.”
Gabriel’s parents’ lawsuit alleged that school officials were aware of a pattern of bullying endured by their son but that they were never informed. Instead, the school intentionally lied about the boy’s injuries over two years and disobeyed protocol to avoid bringing attention to Carson Elementary’s hostile environment. To make matters worse, Gabriel was reportedly told school authorities would punish him if he fought back to defend himself.
Aaron Herzig, a partner at the law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister and the school district’s legal representative, continued to dismiss his client’s role in the eight-year-old’s suicide. The settlement, he told the Enquirer, was the best way for all parties to move forward.
“The defendants strongly believe that neither CPS, its employees, nor the school nurse was responsible for the tragic death of Gabriel Taye,” Herzig said. “CPS embraces the goal of eliminating bullying within schools, as well as continuing to refine and improve reporting, management, and training processes related to incidents of bullying.”
The district’s willful negligence and failure to be truthful “ultimately prevented (Gabriel’s) parents from fully understanding (his) horrifying experience at Carson Elementary,” contended the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “until it was too late.”
As a condition of the settlement, a memorial will be built in Gabriel’s honor at Carson Elementary, and there will be a bench with his image and the following inscription:
“I will ALWAYS stand up to bullies.
I will ALWAYS be Kind and Respectful.
I will ALWAYS be a Friend to others.
I will ALWAYS Look out for those in need.”