By Kelly Corrigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
5:18 PM PST, January 8, 2013
The parents of a 15-year-old Crescenta Valley High School student who jumped to his death on campus last year have filed a lawsuit alleging district officials turned a “blind eye” to the bullying that they allege prompted their son to take his own life.
On Feb. 10, Drew Ferraro jumped to his death from a third-story building at the school in front of other students. Not long into the ensuing investigation, a Los Angeles County coroner’s official said Drew did not reference bullying in any of the “very telling” four suicide notes found on his body.
“They didn’t mention anything about being abused or being bullied,” Los Angeles Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said at the time. “He gave a different reason for doing what he did.”
But Drew’s parents, John and Deana Ferraro, countered that bullying was a major factor in Drew’s suicide. In their lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in December, the parents claim that beginning in his freshman year, Drew was bullied “because of his small size, demeanor and style” and “harassed for his attitude toward girls.”
They also allege school officials did not “attempt to create a safer environment within which Drew could learn and evolve.”
On Tuesday, the family’s attorney, Stanley Lieber, declined to disclose the content of the four letters.
“They were intended for the people they were addressed to. They weren’t for the public,” Lieber said, adding that John and Deana Ferraro will keep the letters private “as [Drew] intended.”
“All he discussed was the pain he was going through,” Lieber said.
In August, the school district rejected a claim containing similar allegations of inadequate responses to the alleged bullying. But Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan on Tuesday said he could not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit described the alleged bullying and back-and-forth between Drew’s parents and school officials about how to deal with the issue.
In one incident, Drew was “spat on, physically pushed and slapped on the back,” according to the lawsuit.
Following the incident, Drew’s father and sister each filed harassment reports, with his sister “complaining about the harassment of her brother, as well as herself due to their association,” according to the lawsuit.
When Drew filed a harassment report on his own behalf, the lawsuit alleges he “was forced to sit with the offending parties and merely sign a contract regarding their behavior.”
Drew’s mother requested notification whenever Drew was called into the counseling office, but school officials “outwardly refused and denied the request,” according to the lawsuit.
After students allegedly threatened to “jump” Drew in the bathroom if he didn’t put up a fight, he was “attacked and hit in the face by one of the original harassers,” according to the lawsuit.
In fall of 2011, Deana Ferraro allegedly read several text messages written by her son contemplating suicide. His grades slipped, and he slept more and resisted school, according to the lawsuit.
In November 2011, Drew was clinically diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.
Two months later, Drew sought to switch out of classes he shared with students who allegedly bullied him, and school officials “promised” to alter his schedule, but “little response was made on this front,” according to the lawsuit.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan