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A new lawsuit claims a California school did nothing to stop the bullying of a 13-year-old boy, who was pronounced brain dead after an alleged assault by his classmates.
Diego Stolz's family said they had complained to officials at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, and even met with the school's assistant principal to talk about the bullying from Diego's classmates. The assistant principal allegedly told Diego in a meeting the bullies would be suspended by the time he returned to school on Monday, according to a new lawsuit.
But when Diego returned to school on Monday, Sept. 16, his bullies were allegedly waiting for him — leading to a videotaped assault on the boy that eventually led to his death.
Two teens, both 13, have each been charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter, a Riverside County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson previously confirmed with Oxygen.com. They haven’t been identified due to their age, have denied the allegations, and are due back in court for pretrial hearings.
Cellphone video of the attack shows Diego hitting his head on a stone pillar after being sucker-punched in the head by his assailants. Only nine days later, on Sept. 25, he was pronounced clinically dead and taken off life support.
A Moreno Valley school district spokeswoman said the district doesn’t believe it is legally liable for Diego’s death.
"The two boys who attacked and killed Diego are responsible for this death," Anahi Velasco wrote in an email to local news station KTLA-TV. “Bullying in schools is a national issue. This issue constitutes a shared responsibility amongst parents, students, school district personnel, community leaders and law enforcement."
Attorney David Ring, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Diego's family, says they are "devastated."
“They lost their 13-year-old son for no reason. It was totally preventable, and they’re really having a difficult time coming to grasp that," Ring told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Ring said at a news conference he doesn't believe the school ever talked to the alleged bullies like his family claims it promised to, according to KTLA.
Diego's family is seeking $100 million in damages and policy changes within the school district to prevent something like this from happening again.
“Part of this lawsuit is to make them accountable and to start implementing some real procedures to prevent bullying,” Ring told the Union-Tribune. “And to ensure when they get a complaint that a kid’s being seriously bullied, that they actually take some action and do something about it so another kid doesn’t get killed.”
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