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Moreno Valley School District to pay $27M to settle lawsuit over student's bullying death

The family of Diego Stolz, who died at the age of 13 after being attacked by classmates at Landmark Middle School, will receive $27 million after a lawsuit settlement against the Moreno Valley School District, attorneys representing the family said.

The million-dollar settlement became the highest after a case of bullying in the United States, according to Taylor & Ring, the law firm that represented the family.

According to the lawsuit, Diego “was murdered by harassing students at his school in September 2019 after school administrators failed to intervene despite previous reports of assault.”

Diego’s uncles, Juana Salcedo and Felipe Salcedo were the minor’s guardians since the death of his parents and reported the bullying several times to the school’s administrators.

“The family will always be heartbroken by Diego’s death, but they hope this case sparks change in school districts across the country,” said lead attorney Ring. “Schools must realize that bullying can never be tolerated and that any reports of bullying or assault must be taken seriously. “Diego’s death could have been avoided if this school had simply prioritized an anti-bullying policy.”

Diego’s uncles reported the minor was being harassed by students at Landmark Middle School in 2018 and 2019.  After several physical attacks by several students, on Friday, September 13, 2019, Diego reported it to the vice principal. “The assistant principal told Diego to take Friday off and that everything would be taken care of when he returned on Monday,” according to the statement.

However, when Diego returned on September 16, the harassing students were still there, and he was attacked by them with a blow to the face that knocked him directly to the ground.  

A video recorded by another student’s cell phone shows how Diego positioned his hands in a way that showed that he was not fighting back.

“The punch knocked Diego down, and his head hit a concrete pillar. While he was lying on the ground, one of the bullies hit him in the face again,” according to the statement. Diego died nine days later.

The school admitted that administrators never reported a previous assault to police, as they were required to do by law.

The two juvenile students, accused in the beating death of Diego, originally faced manslaughter charges but were ordered in March 2021 to complete 150 hours of community service and participate in rehabilitation programs.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office confirmed at the time that “no further custody time was ordered.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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