Rylie Wagner, a 13-year-old student in the Hallsville R-IV School District recently took her own life. According to a wrongful death lawsuit recently filed by her mother, Elizabeth Overstreet, Wagner “took her own life because of the bullying” she was experiencing at school.
Many parents agree that bullying happens all too often in our country’s schools, and the effects of that bullying can have drastic impacts on some students. From depression to the loss of self-confidence, students who experience bullying often feel hopeless, especially if school administrators and other adults do little to prevent the bullying. In extreme cases, that feeling of hopelessness and hurt may even push a student over the edge until they claim their own life. This is what happened with Rylie Wagner, a 13-year-old student in the Hallsville R-IV School District. According to a wrongful death lawsuit recently filed by her mother, Elizabeth Overstreet, Wagner “took her own life because of the bullying” she was experiencing at school.
According to court documents, Wagner attended school in the Hallsville R-IV School District from January 2016 until the time of her death on April 4, 2017. Prior to her death, the lawsuit claims the child was bullied and the “school did nothing to stop it.” Additionally, the suit alleges she was targeted by bullies because of her “gender and sexual orientation.” The lawsuit states:
“Rylie, as well as others similarly situated 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.”
When commenting on the type of bullying and harassment her daughter was subjected to, Overstreet said:
“Rylie was the victim of repeated bullying, discrimination, harassment, assault and battery by fellow students and teachers who targeted kids like her due to the differences in gender, sexual orientation, perceived sexual practices, popularity, clothes, financial status, appearance, etc. Rylie was repeatedly called derogatory names and put in difficult, abusive, harassing, and humiliating situations that were physically and psychologically dangerous.”
On multiple occasions, district administrators were informed by parents and students, including Wagner, about the bullying that was occurring. However, the suit alleges their concern was “ignored or refused to be received in any meaningful and reasonable way compared to the seriousness of the situation.”
Wagner wasn’t the only bullied member of her family, though. In fact, the suit claims her siblings were also harassed and bullied by other students in the district.
How has the district responded to the lawsuit? Well, in a recent statement to ABC 17 News, a spokeswoman for the district said:
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.
At the moment, Wagner’s mother is requesting damages from the “school district, the middle school assistant principal, the middle school principal and the superintendent of the district.”
Hallsville school district sued over 13-year-old’s suicide