Bullied student died by suicide

Bullied student committed suicide. This KC district, 7 employees are sued.

Logan LeBlanc, a Liberty North High School sophomore, attempted suicide on March 6 in his grandparents’ basement because he was so distraught. He died after five days.

He was 16 years of age. A civil lawsuit filed in Clay County Circuit Court now seeks to hold accountable not only the Liberty school district but also seven employees, alleging that the District was negligent in failing to protect LeBlanc from repeated bullying over two years.

Former Liberty North principal Precious Kurth, who is now an assistant superintendent for Kansas City Public Schools, is named in the lawsuit, along with Assistant Principals Lee Allen and Joshua Baldwin, counsellors Jill Brock and Neil Corriston, Spanish teacher Susan Lynn, and math teacher Matt Barnard.

The lawsuit asserts that while LeBlanc was a student at Liberty North, he was “under the care, custody, and control” of the defendants, who were obligated to protect him from “foreseeable and unreasonable risks of harm by other students.”

Instead, it says, LeBlanc was repeatedly bullied and harassed by other students, including a group nicknamed the Mercenaries. In addition to failing to protect LeBlanc, the District and staff were negligent in properly investigating the bullying and in failing to follow the District’s written rules and policies regarding bullying and warning signs of suicide, according to the lawsuit.

“Some Mercenaries dared to attend Logan’s funeral,” wrote attorney Daniel Zmijewski in a court filing. “The District had emboldened the Mercenaries to continue their reign of terror by ignoring the Mercenaries and their repeated acts of bullying.

“Even after Logan’s death, the District learned nothing, as in May, another Liberty North student who continued to be bullied by the Mercenaries attempted suicide. Although the District claims to take mental health seriously, it disregards its written regulations.”

The Star tried to reach out to all defendants. Not a single person responded. The Liberty school district’s spokesman, Dallas Ackerman, issued the following statement in response: “We will let the legal process play out.”

“First and foremost, the loss of a member of our school community is the ultimate tragedy,” the statement read, “and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of this young person who was taken from us too soon.

“Liberty Public Schools is committed to the health, safety, and well-being of all students, and we have comprehensive policies to ensure this. Our school teams work tirelessly to ensure that students who require additional support can access readily available resources.”

Kristi Rice, the mother of LeBlanc, remains bereaved and enraged.

“These administrators did not take the time to get to know this child,” Rice told the! “He felt as though no one cared. This is exactly how I feel in my heart, that he believed he was better off gone because he was insignificant.”

He was victimized due to his weight.
Rice is represented by Zmijewski, who filed and settled a federal lawsuit in 2022 against the McLouth Unified School District in Jefferson County, Kansas, for failing to respond appropriately to a student’s sexual relationship with an adult teacher. Haylee Weissenbach, the student in this case, was awarded $800,000.

The lawsuit against Liberty details what Rice claims happened to her son at Liberty North.

LeBlanc was 6 feet tall and weighed 245 pounds. According to the lawsuit, Rice described him as a “gentle giant” who was frequently bullied due to his size.

The problems began in 2021 when he was 15 and a freshman football player for the school.

“Logan was enormous… “He was an easy target for children’s ridicule,” the lawsuit states. “Children constantly made fun of his weight. They also ridiculed him for other things like his haircut.”

In September of that year, according to the lawsuit, LeBlanc wrote to his Spanish teacher, “I’m not happy, I can’t do this anymore, this whole place makes me sad, and I just want to go home.”

According to the lawsuit, the note was given to his mother at the end of the school day. The medical professionals she consulted diagnosed her son with depression. His condition was made known to the District. LeBlanc was permitted to leave class and speak with a school counsellor when necessary.

At the time, LeBlanc and his mother resided with her parents. LeBlanc allegedly told his grandfather that he was being bullied and harassed, including by the Mercenaries, at school. The suits claim that when the grandfather approached Assistant Principal Lee Allen, he was asked, “What do you want me to do?”

According to the complaint, the grandfather persisted in urging school officials to take action.

The lawsuit asserts: “Despite numerous complaints, and in violation of District policy requiring a written report and investigation, Lee never wrote a report that Logan’s family ever saw, and Logan’s family was never informed of any investigation into the repeated bullying.”

According to the District’s anti-bullying policy, “within two school days of receiving a report of bullying, the principal or designee will initiate an investigation into the incident.”

“In a terrible mental state”
The lawsuit asserts that LeBlanc’s condition worsened despite his grandfather’s continued complaints.

In November 2021, LeBlanc wrote a note to his math teacher, Matt Barnard, apologizing for not staying after school and explaining that his “mental health is at its lowest” and “suicide has crossed my mind at times. I’m in a terrible mental state.”

The letter was sent to LeBlanc’s mother. Students suspected of suicidal ideation are subject to a rigorous protocol outlined by district policy. The allegation is that this procedure was not adhered to.

Worsening circumstances led LeBlanc to seek counselling outside of school. It is rumoured that members of the Mercenaries assaulted him in the school bathroom. The lawsuit claims that instead of listening to LeBlanc and his family, officials punished LeBlanc for fighting. His family viewed his decision as “self-preservation.”

“Despite complaints, no bullying reports were drafted, and no safety plan to protect Logan was created or enacted. Instead,” the suit reads, “the District chose to blame Logan for the unprovoked attacks by the Mercenaries.

“Meanwhile, Logan would eat lunch in a hidden corner in the building.”

He earned grades of D. The summer was a welcome break, but shortly after returning to school for his sophomore year, he was involved in another fight and suspended. Reportedly, bullying continued.

LeBlanc, an avid baseball fan, tried out for the team in February. On Friday, March 3, he was dismembered.

The following Monday, he attempted suicide. His grandfather located him within minutes and attempted CPR. A few hours later, according to the lawsuit, an anonymous tip was made to Courage2Report, a hotline designed to prevent and report school violence. The anonymous informants expressed concern that LeBlanc might attempt suicide “after being bullied at school.”

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