Things That Matter

School District Pays $3 Million After They Failed To Report Bullying That Led To 8-Year-Old’s Suicide

Photo via GoFundMe

The parents of an 8-year-old boy who killed himself in 2017 have finally gotten justice. Or more accurately, something as close to justice as they can get. In June of 2021, Cincinnati Public Schools was ordered to pay $3 million to the parents of Gabriel Taye.

8-year-old Gabriel Taye suffered from months of violent, relentless bullying at the hands of fellow students. Taye’s mother alleges that employees of the school failed to report the extent of the abuse to her.

On January 26th, 2017, Cornelia Reynolds found her 8-year-old son, Gabriel, hanging by a necktie from his bunk bed. The young boy had killed himself after months of relentless bullying at his elementary school. For months after his death, Reynolds still was at a loss. What made her baby boy so hopeless that he no longer felt like living?

According to Reynolds, her son loved to sing to her, play games with his father, and dress up in neckties. He never betrayed signs that he was suffering inside. He was always “cheerful”–one of the reasons, she says, she “missed the signs” of how bad he was being bullied.

It was only after months of researching Gabriel’s death that Reynolds discovered how badly he had been bullied at school. And how the school had failed to report the incidents to her.

Days before his death, Gabriel Taye had been assaulted so badly by a fellow student that he lay unconscious in the public restroom for seven minutes.

In the surveillance video of the incident, you can see a student approach Taye and hold out his hand, as if to shake it. When Taye reaches out to shake his hand, the boy knocks him to the ground, where he reportedly laid there, unconscious, for seven minutes. While he was unconscious, students kicked and pointed at him while they walked by.

Gabriel Taye was taken to the nurse, who did not call 911 (as should always happen in the case of a student being knocked unconscious). The school nurse told Taye’s mother that he had “fainted”. Gabriel told his mother that he only remembered falling, passing out, and hurting his stomach.

Days later, after Gabriel Taye returned to school, some bullies stole his water bottle and tried to flush it down the toilet. That day, after school, Gabriel Taye went home and hanged himself.

These violent assaults against Taye were just the tip of the iceberg. He regularly came home with injuries: loose teeth, a sprained ankle, scratches and bruises. Once, the school nurse called Ms. Reynolds to report that Gabriel Taye had been punched in the face by a fellow student. An assistant principal brushed it off as “horseplay” to Ms. Reynolds. Reynolds asked to see surveillance footage of the incident, but administrators refused.

Part of the settlement between Cornelia Reynolds and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) requires the school district to change the way they track and intervene in cases of bullying. CPS will now be required to track repeat offenders and locations that are ground zero for bullying.

“In honor of Gabe, his family is using this settlement to protect current and future CPS students,” said an attorney for Gabriel Taye’s family. “We will make sure these reforms take root and end bullying throughout the CPS system.”

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available. The US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Or you can text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous crisis support from the Crisis Text Line. You are not alone.

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