When a 13-year-old boy told school officials he was being bullied, he thought they were going to put an end to his torment. Instead, he became the victim of an attack at school, captured in a viral video and resulting in his death.
Diego Stolz, a 13-year-old student at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, California, was tragically left dead after being sucker-punched and attacked by two school bullies on campus. The assault was captured on video and quickly went viral as the boy succumbed to his injuries 9 days later.
Sadly, days before the assault and Diego being killed by his classmates, he told a school administrator that he was being bullied by other students. According to family and friends, school officials did nothing, and as a result, Diego died at the hands of the same kids he had reported after they fatally attacked him days after he had reported their alleged abuse.
The attack on Diego Stolz took place on the Moreno Valley campus as onlookers recorded the confrontation. Because of school officials’ alleged failure to intervene and protect the boy, a legal claim was filed against Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) by Juan and Felipe Salcedo, Diego’s aunt and uncle who raised him from the age of 1 following his mother’s death, KTLA reported.
Events Leading Up To The Attack:
The claim, a precursor to a wrongful death lawsuit, alleges that Diego and his adult cousin Jazmin sought help from Landmark’s assistant principal one day after the teen was targeted by a group of boys who had previously been his friends. For reasons unknown, the boys turned on Diego in the 7th grade, “verbally and physically” harassing him.
Diego reportedly met with the assistant principal alone for 20 minutes to report the bullying, after which he and Jazmin were told the bullies would be suspended for three days and have their class schedules changed, the legal claim alleges. Documents also state Diego was told he could take the day off school — a Friday — and return on Monday.
“He was so relieved that he had talked to someone,” Jazmin recalled, trying to hold back tears as she spoke during a news conference. “We were on our drive back home, and I turned around and I told him, ‘I’m always going to defend you. You know that, right?’ And he nodded his head, ‘I know.'”
The Day Of The Attack:
Thinking the school had handled the situation and he’d be safe, Diego Stolz returned to school Monday. Although he was told his bullies were suspended for 3 days, they were there, according to Dave Ring, an attorney for Diego’s family. Diego was confronted and attacked at lunch, where he was punched and knocked down by two boys.
Diego hit his head on a pillar as he went down and was pronounced clinically dead nine days later as he was removed from life support. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office charged the two 13-year-old boys involved in the attack with voluntary manslaughter and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury in connection with his death. They have not been named due to their ages.
Accusations Made In The Legal Claim:
Attorney Ring doesn’t believe school officials ever talked to the bullies after Diego reported the abuse and the issue was brought to the assistant principal’s attention by a teacher. “My information is that the assistant principal did absolutely nothing with that information, ever,” Ring said. “That’s what’s unbelievably devastating to this family, that this could have been prevented,” he added. “It could have been prevented if this school took bullying seriously.”
Students And Parents React:
In the wake of Diego’s tragic passing, other students and parents have come forward to complain about the ongoing problem of bullying at Landmark and other schools, alleging the district has done little to stop it. Diego’s family hopes their legal claim against the school will result in policy changes to prevent such incidents from happening again. The school, of course, feels differently, saying it is not legally liable for Diego’s death.
The School’s Response:
“The two boys who attacked and killed Diego are responsible for this death,” Moreno Valley school district spokeswoman Anahi Velasco wrote in an email to KTLA. “Bullying in schools is a national issue. This issue constitutes a shared responsibility amongst parents, students, school district personnel, community leaders and law enforcement,” she added. “Together, we need to send a resounding message these behaviors will not be tolerated in our schools. Keeping kids safe in schools is a high priority at MVUSD.”
While we can agree with what the spokeswoman said, it doesn’t seem the school practiced what she preached. If it had, Diego’s killers wouldn’t have been at school that day. Instead, the school’s failure to act on Diego’s behalf cost a child his life. Yes, ending bullying is a shared responsibility, but it doesn’t seem to be one the school took seriously. When a child tells a trusted adult they are in danger, the adult better err on the side of caution. A failure to do so resulted in the death of an innocent child.