Judge rules family of boy bullied to death can sue Joshua ISD - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Judge rules family of boy bullied to death can sue Joshua ISD

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The parents of a 13-year-old boy who killed himself after being bullied at school won a big victory in court recently.

Jon Carmichael, an eighth grader who attended Loftin Middle School in Joshua, died in 2010. His case drew national attention to the problem of bullying.

Now, his parents will be able to move forward with a lawsuit against the Joshua Independent School District.

Jon’s family says they want people to know what happened to him before his decision to commit suicide, and they want school districts everywhere to never again take a child's claim of bullying lightly.

"If you're going to school to get an education, you shouldn't have to fear walking in those doors,” said Jon’s mom, Tami Carmichael. Tami is relieved she’ll see the Joshua Independent School District in court after all.

The decision by a fifth circuit court of appeals judge came two years after the family's case was dismissed and more than four years after Jon, her youngest child, took his own life. Jon’s family says he'd been tormented and assaulted by a group of classmates for years. 

Tami got the news of the latest legal action through her attorney.

"I was very emotional when he had called and told me,” said Tami. “The only thing I could think of... the only thing I’ve been doing this for is the other children in the world because it shouldn't happen."

The lawsuit details allege Jon was placed upside down in a school toilet and had his head flushed several times. During another incident, he was stripped nude, tied up and placed in a trashcan.

The lawsuit also says a student posted video of that incident on YouTube before a school staff member had it removed.

“That weekend, he was closed up,” said Tami. “He wouldn't talk, and we did not know the extreme he'd gone through that week until after his death.”

An attorney for the family, Greg Googan, told the FOX TV station in Houston that while a difficult jury trial lies ahead, the appeals court ruling sends out strong currents.

"It puts schools on notice that when they receive information about a kid being bullied, they better investigate it,” said Googan.

Tami says Joshua ISD failed to protect her son, but hopefully his death will make schools safer.

"I think I will have some kind of reward to my heart and soul that I was able to do something for the rest of the children out there,” said Tami.

The trial, once underway, will be held in Tarrant County federal court, but as of right now, no one knows when it will begin.

Tami says it could be three, four or five years away from being resolved.


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