The family of an 8-year-old CPS student who died by suicide after being bullied in 2017 won a key victory in court Tuesday.
Gabriel Taye was bullied at Carson Elementary countless times in the three years before his death, including shocking incidents where bullying occurred but school officials neither helped him nor told his parents, according to the court opinion.
Taye’s family claims a “cover-up” occurred “aimed at keeping any information regarding the rampant violence and aggressive behavior at Carson Elementary a secret,” according to their complaint.
Taye died on Jan. 27, 2017.
Taye missed school on Jan. 25 and went back to Carson Elementary on Jan. 26.
Writing of Jan. 27, the opinion notes: “That day, two boys again attacked Taye while he was in the school bathroom, stealing his water bottle and attempting to flush it down the toilet. Taye reported the incident to a teacher, but nothing came of it.”
The opinion continues: “Taye came home from school that day around 5:30 p.m., took one of his neckties, and used it to hang himself from the top bunk of his bunk bed. Taye’s mother found him hanging from the bunk bed, unresponsive. As Reynolds began administering CPR to Taye, a neighbor heard her screaming and came to help. Reynolds called 911 as her neighbor attempted to revive her son. When the paramedics arrived on the scene, they were unable to revive Taye.”
Tuesday’s opinion details a bullying incident from 2014 in which Taye’s mother was told the boy’s injuries were not severe, though his two front teeth were removed as a result.
Three other bullying incidents happened in the 2015-16 school year, according to the opinion. After one such incident, the school didn’t try to contact Taye’s parents, and there is no indication the school reprimanded the bullies.
The incidents escalated the next fall, the opinion states. Taye was shoved and punched in one incident, and the school reprimanded him for the behavior, possibly for having fought back to defend himself. Similar incidents followed, including one where Taye suffered a head injury and his mother was denied her request to review video footage.
Three other attacks, as the opinion describes them, took place in January 2017. One occurred in the lunchroom when a student approached Taye in the cafeteria and began kicking him. Taye’s parents were again denied their request to review video footage.
Branch issued a statement on Tuesday’s ruling that reads in part:
“The Court stated that the falsifying of bullying that occurred prevented Gabe’s parents from fully understanding Gabe’s ‘horrifying experience at Carson Elementary until it was too late.’