CINCINNATI – An 8-year-old’s death is bringing change to Cincinnati Public Schools more than four years later, and attorneys across the nation have taken notice.
Gabriel Taye died in 2017 after he took his own life. He was in the third grade at Carson Elementary school, and his family said he had endured rampant bullying there.
Monday, attorneys in other parts of the nation said the little boy’s life has created a pathway toward change in schools and courtrooms across the country.
“The settlement they got is, it’s good," said Julie Pautsch, faculty fellow and director of the Anti-Bullying Project for Loyala University's School of Law in Chicago. “It's great they’re putting the school district in the right direction. They're going to help so many children through this settlement.”
She said one of the most notable changes in the settlement requires schools to track offenders, victims and locations of bullying.
“It’ll be helpful to us to really push on records issues and get information from school districts,” said Pautsch.
Cincinnati-based attorney Al Gerhardstein represented the boy’s parents in the lawsuit. The Cincinnati Public Schools board voted in favor of the settlement and the additional programming changes in the agreement on Monday night.
"It was such a trauma to the mother in particular, who found him, but to the dad, too,” said Gerhardstein. “This lawsuit has at least allowed them, in the limited way lawsuits can do, to honor Gabe by trying to help the next kid.”
He and CPS say the agreement includes the following terms:
- Improving efforts to identify bullying by tracking repeat offenders, repeat victims and repeat locations where acts of bullying take place regardless of how the school or district becomes aware of the bullying;
- Improving the ability of school nurses to report suspected incidents of bullying within the district’s reporting system;
- Intervening with those engaged in bullying by using restorative justice principles;
- Adopting the state model policy for deterring bullying;
- Training and supervising all staff to follow the reforms; and
- Placing an appropriate memorial to Gabriel Taye at Carson School.
CPS and Taye’s family attorneys will meet twice a year for the next two years to monitor these non-economic terms.
Gerhardstein said the memorial will likely be a bench with a quote reading, "I will always stand up to bullies. I will always be kind and respectful. I will always be a friend to others. I will always look out for those in need."
In 2017, a street in the city's Westwood neighborhood was renamed "Gabriel's Way" in his honor.
The attorney representing the school district, Aaron Herzig, said:
"Resolution of this difficult matter is in the best interest of all parties. The defendants strongly believe that neither CPS, its employees, nor the school nurse were responsible for the tragic death of Gabriel Taye. CPS does embrace the elimination of bullying within schools, as well as continuing to refine and improve reporting, management, and training processes related to incidents of bullying."
To see the statement attorneys on both sides released together, click here.