Hailee Lamberth had good news to share when she sent her parents a text message at 1:53 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12.
“I GOT STUDENT OF THE MONTH IN MATH!!!!!” the message read.
About two hours later, Hailee’s father and 6-year-old brother found her body at their Henderson home. The seventh-grader had shot herself in the head.
Hailee’s parents don’t know what transpired after she sent the celebratory text message, but they would come to learn that she was the victim of bullies at White Middle School since as early as August 2013.
On Tuesday, Jason and Jennifer Lamberth filed a wrongful-death lawsuit in Clark County District Court. It alleges officials at the Henderson school failed to inform the couple about a complaint entered into the Clark County School District’s bullying website on Nov. 20, about three weeks before Hailee killed herself.
“This failure deprived Jason and Jennifer of the opportunity to intervene or access guidance and counseling services for their daughter,” the lawsuit alleged.
Spokeswoman Melinda Malone said the school district does not comment on pending litigation.
Jason and Jennifer Lamberth discussed the lawsuit Tuesday during an interview at their Henderson home, where they were joined by one of their lawyers, Allen Lichtenstein.
The parents insist they could have prevented their daughter’s death if school officials had told them she was being bullied.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, we wouldn’t be here today if the school had informed us of this,” Jason Lamberth said.
Hailee Lamberth’s brother, Jacob, also is listed as a plaintiff in the case. The defendants include the school district; White Middle School Principal Andrea Katona; two deans, Ron Kamman and April Barr; counselor Sabreena Adams; and P.E. teacher Kim Jefferson.
Jason Lamberth brought the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s suicide to light at a Clark County School Board meeting in February, when he argued that district officials had failed to follow state laws regarding school bullying. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky later created a bullying task force to address the father’s concerns.
Allegations in the Lamberths’ lawsuit suggest that a boy and a girl had bullied Hailee since the start of the school year.
According to “Hailee’s Story,” as described in the lawsuit:
“Hailee enjoyed academics, earning straight A’s and honor roll awards. She had many friends and a close and supportive family.”
Hailee played starting goalie on her soccer team and “was widely regarded as the best goalie in her age division.”
“Recently diagnosed with epilepsy, Hailee would endure petit mal and grand mal seizures at times, with grace and determination.”
Hailee experienced “severe and abusive acts of bullying” in the months before her death. For example, a voicemail message recorded on Hailee’s phone on Sept. 27, 2013, mocked her seizures and stated, “Where are you Hailee? I hope you died.”
A fellow student told the school in March, “I have actually seen C.H. bully Hailee. I don’t remember the exact date when it happened but I know it happened at lunch around Thanksgiving time, he was pushing her around and he called her ‘fat’ and ‘ugly.’”
The school previously suspended “C.H.” for three days on two occasions for the bullying of other students.
C.H. also left letters in Hailee’s locker, instructing her to “Drink Bleach and Die” and asking, “Why don’t you die?”
On Nov. 20, a different student reported on the school district’s website that Hailee was being bullied in Jefferson’s P.E. class by a girl, identified in the lawsuit as “J.J,” whose mean comments made Hailee cry almost daily.
“Despite Nevada statutory mandates and a CCSD policy requiring any employee” who witnesses bullying to report it to a principal or principal’s designee, “Jefferson made no such report.”
Under Nevada law, the principal or designee shall provide written notice of a reported bullying incident to the parents of each pupil involved and must include a statement that an investigation will be conducted.
Hailee’s suicide note “illustrates the dangers of a school district ignoring documented acts of bullying.”
In a suicide note, Hailee wrote, “I only ask that you tell my school I killed myself so maybe next time people like (C.H.) wants to call someone (names), he won’t.”
The section of the lawsuit subtitled “Hailee’s Story” is followed by a section subtitled “CCSD and Circling the Wagons: Denial, Dereliction & Defamation.”
According to the lawsuit, Jason Lamberth met with dean Kamman on March 10 and asked for any files, including disciplinary files, related to his daughter and was told by the dean that no disciplinary files existed. The father returned to the school the same day and met with the principal, who gave him Hailee’s disciplinary file.
The file contained information about the November bullying report, according to the lawsuit, and indicated that deans had “investigated and handled the incident.”
“Jason and Jennifer were stunned,” according to their lawsuit. “This was the first time they had been notified of the bullying incident and the online complaint.”
Jason Lamberth met with Skorkowsky on March 17 to discuss his concerns, and the superintendent responded with a letter. According to the Lamberths’ lawsuit, the letter included an attachment authored by Katona that “provided a false chronology related to Hailee Lamberth.”
“In this purported chronology, Principal Katona made egregiously false and malicious statements defaming Jason and Jennifer Lamberth, outrageously and falsely claiming that Jason Lamberth abused Hailee,” the lawsuit alleged.
According to the lawsuit, Jason Lamberth later learned that the school district had sent this chronology to a “third party parent at the school.” The Lamberths’ lawsuit includes a defamation claim.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.