School Suspends Suicide Victim’s Bullies
“[The police] shared some information with us, and we followed up,” Superintendent Scott Martzloff said. “We made the determination to take disciplinary action.”
Regarding the severity of punishments these students received, Martzloff said only that the students face “a minimum of suspensions.” That implies at least short-term suspensions of up to five days, with the possibility of long-term suspensions subject to a hearing. Expulsion is not an option for students of this age.
Martzloff said that after following up on the police findings, the district issued the student sanctions Wednesday.
The exact number of kids suspended is unknown, but the criminal investigation into Jamey’s death indicated a number of individuals that may have been involved in bullying the 14-year-old.
This follows Amherst Police Chief John Askey’s recent announcement that he would be closing said criminal investigation without charges because, among other key problems, the ages of Rodemeyer’s bullies means their actions are not prosecutable under the law.
Jamey’s suicide prompted a public outcry, in part because Jamey had only fairly recently created an It Gets Better video designed to let other kids know that they can survive bullying and that, out of high school, life does improve.
The anger over Jamey’s death was further compounded when news surfaced that his bullies had continued to wound Jamey’s family by making it known they were “glad” Jamey was dead.
Yet, while nothing could in any way ameliorate Jamey’s suicide, it is important to recognize that there has been some positive action since then.
The bullying that Jamey had to endure also served as an impetus for New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) to introduce legislation that would modernize New York’s anti-bullying laws. In particular Klein’s legislation is designed to make tackling cyber bullying easier, something that isn’t necessarily actionable under current law. The legislation would, among other things, expand the charge of Second-Degree Manslaughter (a Class C Felony) to include “bullycide.” The term is defined as when a person engages in cyberbullying and intentionally causes the victim to commit suicide.
It is still unclear at this time whether Jamey’s parents might launch court proceedings over their son’s death.