Local parents are taking their school district to court claiming they failed to document reports of bullying, which contributed to their son’s suicide.
The parents of Jacobe Taras say they had no idea he was being bullied at school but they claim teachers knew about it – and did nothing to intervene.
“I just can’t deal with all of the bullying, being called gay, a-hole, being told to go kill myself,” Richard Taras said.
Taras was reading the suicide note from his 13-year-old son Jacobe. The 7th grader took his own life using a shotgun in 2015 because he was being bullied at school.
Richard and Christine Taras reliving the moment in court on Tuesday.
The couple has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the south glens falls school district and 4 school employees including a 7th-grade teacher, a gym teacher, a counselor, and the principal of Oliver Winch Middle School.
“Jacobe was bullied. They [the defendants] knew about it and they didn’t document it,” Ryan Flinn, Taras’ attorney, said. “They didn’t report it. They didn’t investigate it and ultimately it leads to a lot of pain and suffering for this young kid, and a 13-year-old child is dead.”
The Taras argue the school never told them about the bullying, name-calling, and punching described in Jacobe’s note.
The defense claiming his death shouldn’t be blamed on the school.
(Malcolm O’Hara / defense)
“Obviously it’s a very difficult case. The school district employees feel very bad for the Taras’. They can’t imagine what they’ve lived through,” Malcolm O’Hara, defense attorney, said. “As bad as these accusations are, they are so serious for professional educators, whose careers are on the line here, that they somehow contributed to this boy’s death.”
O’Hara says his clients did not know about the bullying.
“Nor did the parents of the child.”
One of the defendants takes the stand, a former teacher, testified that she doesn’t remember any altercations between Jacobe and another student.
She previously told police a different story and never reported the incident to the parents.
“The problem is that the policies all along require them to report, require them to investigate, require them to document, and to notify the parents. None of which happened.”
During this trial, Jacobe’s former classmate are expected to take the stand about what they saw at school, and which teachers they claim to have notified.