Cincinnati Public Schools to Pay $3 Million in Gabriel Taye Bullying Case

Eight-year-old Taye took his own life in 2017 after being assaulted by other students many times over the years.

Jun 7, 2021 at 11:03 am
click to enlarge Gabriel Taye plays the guitar in a video from the Gabriel B. Taye Foundation. - Image: Gabriel B. Taye Foundation video still
Image: Gabriel B. Taye Foundation video still
Gabriel Taye plays the guitar in a video from the Gabriel B. Taye Foundation.

The family of 8-year-old Gabriel Taye likely will receive $3 million from Cincinnati Public Schools in the settlement of a bullying case that ended with Taye dying by suicide.

A court reached its decision on Friday. The CPS Board of Education is expected to vote to approve the settlement on Monday.

Taye took his life in 2017 after kids pushed him into a wall in the boys' restroom at Carson School in West Price Hill, according to CPS security footage. He reportedly had laid unconscious on the floor for several minutes until an adult found him. 

After investigating the incident, his family filed suit, alleging that CPS was not forthcoming with information about bullying within the elementary school, neither with Taye nor with other students. Taye allegedly had been assaulted many times prior to the restroom incident and had suffered multiple injuries as a result.

The family also alleged that school officials misrepresented the assaults on Taye, saying that the adults had given other reasons why Taye had been unconscious and had not conveyed the severity or regularity of the bullying to the family. In addition to the district itself, the Taye family's suit had named current and former employees Mary Ronan, Ruthenia Jackson, Jeffrey McKenzie and Margaret McLaughlin as defendants.

An opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio about the January 2017 bathroom incident read as follows, according to WXIX-TV:

The school nurse examined Taye but did not call 911. Instead, an hour after the incident, the school nurse called Taye’s mother and told her that Taye had ‘fainted,’ was ‘alert,’ that his ‘vitals [were] fine,’ and that he didn’t require any additional medical attention. (...) Jackson and McKenzie never told Reynolds that a student attacked her son in the bathroom, that the same student attacked other boys in the bathroom that day, or that her son was unconscious for more than seven minutes. None of the Defendants reported this incident, either internally or externally.

Taye died by suicide on January 26, 2017, just two days after the incident in the restroom.

If the CPS Board of Education approves the settlement that was reached on Friday, CPS will pay the Taye family $3 million and enact a number of anti-bullying measures, The New York Times reports. If CPS agrees, the district would establish better measures for tracking bullies and victims, training for school nurses to properly identify and report bullying, training for school officials to intervene during bullying incidents, and a memorial to Taye on the Carson School grounds. Attorneys for Taye's family also would monitor CPS's progress, the Times reports.

"In honor of Gabe, his family is using this settlement to protect current and future CPS students. We will make sure these reforms take root and end bullying throughout the CPS system," Al Gerhardstein, lead counsel for the Taye family, says in a release.

Even though CPS is expected to agree to the settlement, an attorney for the district continues to dispute that CPS employees contributed to Taye's death.

"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," Aaron Herzig, lead outside counsel for Cincinnati Public Schools, says in a release. "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."

Taye's family has established the Gabriel B. Taye Foundation to advocate for victims of school bullying.