(NEW YORK) — On the one-year anniversary of a student’s death, an elite boarding school in New Jersey released a statement publicly admitting its failure.
The Lawrenceville School released a statement acknowledging that it failed to protect student Jack Reid, who died by suicide in 2022, from bullying, saying it “fell tragically short” in Jack’s case. Jack was 17 at the time.
Elizabeth and Bill Reid, Jack’s parents, spoke to ABC News’ Good Morning America about their son’s suicide after bullying at The Lawrenceville School.
“We were well aware of what was going on and we were encouraging him. He advocated for himself. He talked to the school. He talked to his friends. We were meant to see him the next morning and the last words we spoke to him about were, ‘Dad, I’m doing better. I love you,'” Bill Reid recalled.
The school said in its statement that it had been made aware of the bullying and “cruel behavior” toward Jack and “there were steps that the school should have taken in hindsight and did not.” It promised to make changes and do better.
“Bullying and unkind behavior, and actions taken or not taken by the school, likely contributed to Jack’s death,” read part of the statement posted by The Lawrenceville School on April 30.
The statement was required as part of a settlement deal with the family of Jack Reid, who had filed a lawsuit against the school.
In the spring of 2021, an untrue rumor spread across The Lawrenceville School campus that Jack, who was a junior in high school at the time, had committed sexual assault by kissing a girl. Then, in September 2021, a false claim that Jack was a rapist was posted anonymously to a nationwide student app, in a letter from the school obtained by ABC.
The school reportedly investigated the rumors and found them false, but never publicly shared the results or told Jack, in the letter.
On April 30, 2022, a student, who was disciplined for bullying Jack, was expelled from the school for other reasons, however, the school admitted that the student was allowed to return “largely unsupervised” to the dorm where Jack lived, according to the statement. Students gathered with the expelled student and reportedly began bullying Jack, according to the statement released by the school. Later that night, he died by suicide, according to the statement from the school.
The school announced that it will create policies around spotting and stopping bullying and has since agreed to contribute to multiple nonprofits focused on bullying and suicide prevention per the school’s latest statement.
“Jack was universally regarded as an extremely kind and good-hearted young man, with an unwavering sense of social and civic responsibility and a bright future. We continue to mourn this loss,” the school said in part of the statement.
It added, “We acknowledge that more should have been done to protect Jack.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises, please call or text 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org or dial the current toll free number 800-273-8255 [TALK].
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