Parents of Triad girl who died by suicide wants lawsuit to continue

Bethany Thompson, middle, in a picture with her mother, Wendy Feucht and father, Paul Thompson.
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Bethany Thompson, middle, in a picture with her mother, Wendy Feucht and father, Paul Thompson.

The parents who sued Triad Local School after their 11-year-old daughter died by suicide is asking a judge to not dismiss the federal lawsuit.

Bethany Thompson’s parents filed a federal lawsuit in October alleging the school did not do enough to protect their child from bullies. Bethany survived cancer she was diagnosed with when she was 3-years-old. However, during brain surgery to remove a tumor, a nerve was hit causing her to develop what her family affectionately called a “crooked smile.”

Her parents say kids at the school made fun of her for it. Bethany died by suicide in 2016.

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A 38-page response from the district argues that the school nor its employees are responsible for Bethany’s death. The district in the court filing also says there is little proof that Bethany killed herself due to bullying.

The school requested the lawsuit be tossed and, previously, the school said it takes bullying seriously and student safety is a top priority.

“The district has always had policies in compliance with state and federal laws, and it updates those policies when state or federal laws so require,” a statement from school attorney Attorney Douglas Holthus says.

However, in response, Bethany’s parents, Wendy Feucht and Paul Thompson’s attorney argue that the lawsuit is valid. They say recent court rulings that involved suicides, Cincinnati Public School District and Fairfield City School District are nearly identical to the circumstances at Triad and the cases were heard by the court.

ExploreParents of 11-year-old Triad student who killed herself sue district

The issues presented in those cases are “…whether a school board and school employees are liable under federal and state law for the suicide of a student who was subjected to ongoing, pervasive bullying and harassment where the school board and school employees, with knowledge of the bullying and in violation of state law and their own internal policies and procedures, deliberately failed to take any action to protect the student and misrepresented their actions and the extent of the bullying to family members and others,” according to court documents filed by the parents.

The response says in previous cases, the court ruled that claims for relief under both federal and state law was plausible and refused to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit aims to bring change to the school district, it says.

“This action seeks damages and seeks to reform the Triad Local Schools’ policies and practices for responding to bullying, harassment, assault, battery, and discrimination,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Bethany was hit, slapped and shoved at school.

The lawsuit also points out that another Triad student of similar age to Bethany died by suicide just five years before Bethany and says that officials should have done more to protect Thompson.

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