Mother suing Hallsville school district over suicide of her daughter

5 months 21 hours 45 minutes ago Tuesday, August 21 2018 Aug 21, 2018 Tuesday, August 21, 2018 8:50:00 AM CDT August 21, 2018 in News
By: Steve Lambson, News Content Manager

HALLSVILLE - The mother of a girl who committed suicide after alleged bullying at school filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Hallsville school district.

Rylie Wagner died in April 2017 after what her mother described as bullying at school. Elizabeth Overstreet told KOMU 8 News "there were girls telling [Rylie] to go kill herself just about every single day."

Overstreet's lawsuit, filed in July, names as defendants the Hallsville R-4 School District, Superintendent John Downs, and Ty Sides and Clint Hague, who worked at the Hallsville Middle School at the time Rylie was a student there.

In the petition, Overstreet argues Rylie was bullied leading up to the day she committed suicide, and that other students "experienced bullying at Hallsville R-IV School District that was generally complained of but ignored, and often met with the consequences of the victim of bullying being subjected to punishment and further bullying."

"Well before Rylie took her own life due to bullying," the petition continues, "the Hallsville R-IV School District had a reputation that it was somewhere she could expect to be bullied because it was just the way it was."

Overstreet claimed the district didn't do enough to stop or prevent bullying, saying "there were many students and parents of students who tried to express this concern to the Hallsville R-IV School District Defendants, but the concern was ignored or refused to be received in any meaningful and reasonable way compared to the seriousness of the situation."

She also said Rylie never got protection from staff or administrators "from the constant and ongoing abuse and harassment by her classmates," despite being "aware that Rylie thought she was the victim of bullying." Instead, according to Overstreet, administrators "did nothing to meaningfully investigate the bullying, and instead sent a message with their inactions that the way she was being treated was acceptable and that kids can be kids and handle their own problems."

Overstreet is asking for damages high enough so as to "punish Defendants, and deter them from like conduct in the future."

The Hallsville school district released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"The Hallsville R-IV School District is aware of the pending civil action filed against the district. As professional educators, we strive to always put students’ safety and well-being first, and the district is committed to maintaining a learning and working environment free of any form of bullying or intimidation. Within our district, we take all allegations of bullying seriously, and complete a full investigation into every report of such instances, in accordance with board policies and state law. At this time, we are unable to speak about pending legal action or circumstances related to any allegation of student bullying."

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