School Found Negligent In Bullying Case In Which Students Petitioned To Kill A Classmate
Eleri Irons won a $1 million lawsuit against her former school that failed to stop her bullying which involved a petition to end her life.
A California school district has been directed to pay $1 million for failing to protect a student against severe bullying. The behavior occurred over an extended period of time and even included a petition to end the student’s life. After a long battle, the teen involved is now on a path to recovery and even determined to forgive her former classmates.
Eleri Irons was just 13 years old when a “love triangle” threatened her friendship with three close classmates at El Segundo Middle School. Two of the other students involved were upset at the situation and then egged on by another friend. It was then that the trio began bullying Irons and tormenting her repeatedly.
The bullying began with verbal attacks. Irons was called a “liar, whore, cheater, and boyfriend-stealer.” This escalated to the girls screaming at her, making inappropriate gestures whenever she was seen in the halls, and even being slapped in the face. Teachers did nothing and no amount of talking it out would end the behavior, so Irons went to the school counselor for help.
The girls came to a session with Irons, but nothing was resolved and the bullying only intensified. She began receiving vulgar messages from her former friends. Instead of seeking help from the school once more, Irons went to her parents. Mr. and Mrs. Irons met with the principal multiple times. Although they assured their daughter that the behavior would be dealt with, the bullying continued.
Her parents attempted to reach out to one of the girls’ parents’ to no avail. Eleri Irons grew to hate school. Her academic performance suffered along with her declining mental health. No matter how many times she went to teachers and school staff for help they didn’t provide long-term care or even follow up on the bullying situation. Irons became so anxious that she started cutting herself.
Eleri’s parents agreed to send her to a private school for the next term, but she had to remain through the end of the school year. Then at an eighth-grade class trip at the end of the year, a group of girls chased and taunted her. She rushed to the bus to be alone and cry without fear of bullying. Her parents were furious about the incident and scheduled a meeting with the principal, but before they met another parent informed them of a “Petition to End Eleri Irons’ Life” that had been circulated around during the trip. Several students signed it.
Her parents discussed the petition with the principal at the meeting the next day. Mr. Irons demanded that the police be notified. The principal claimed that he contacted law enforcement when the petition was discovered, but school police testified that no action had been taken until minutes before the family came for their meeting. The length and extent of these bullying incidents led to the lawsuit filed in 2019. On August 25th of this year, the verdict was decided and the courts ruled that the school had been negligent in its handling of this abuse against the former student.
Eleri Irons has expressed her wish to forgive her former friends. She believes that the school’s inability to properly guide them away from their bullying failed the other girls as much as it failed her, noting, “They didn’t get the intervention they needed either.” The girls involved, and their parents, have not released comments on the ruling, but district officials did issue a statement expressing a commitment to improve school policy and prevent bullying.