Family sues district in California over 2019 death of middle school student

Sept. 15, 2020
Diego Stolz, 13, a student at Landmark Middle School in the Moreno Valley District, was fatally beaten in 2019 at the school.

The family of Diego Stolz, a middle school student who died last year after being assaulted by two classmates, has sued the Moreno Valley (Calif.) Unified School District, alleging it failed to take reports of bullying seriously and is responsible for the boy's death.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports that Diego, 13, was sucker-punched On Sept. 16, 2019, at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, Calif. The incident was captured on video and shared on social media. His head hit a pillar and, after he fell to the ground, unconscious, his assailant and another boy continued punching him.

Diego died days later in a hospital,  and his two assailants have been charged with assault and voluntary manslaughter.

The family waited to file the lawsuit until a state law was changed to give them legal standing to sue.

Previously, only parents were allowed to sue on behalf of someone who died “due to the wrongful act or neglect of another.” But Diego and his two brothers were being raised by his maternal aunt and uncle, Juana and Felipe Salcedo.

“The real tragedy behind Diego’s death is that administrators at Landmark Middle School had been warned multiple times that Diego was being bullied by other students at Landmark Middle School, including as recently as the Friday before the assault,” the lawsuit says. “Administrators completely disregarded such warnings and did absolutely nothing to stop the bullying, despite assuring Diego’s aunt (Juana) and other family members that measures would be taken to address the bullying.”

The lawsuit accuses Moreno Valley school administrators of allowing bullying to go “unchecked” at district campuses for decades, citing the 1998 death of Jerod Schroeder, also at Landmark Middle School.

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