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Student’s suicide anniversary focuses attention on bullying

A candlelight vigil for Hailee Lamberth, a 13-year-old who committed suicide a year ago Friday, cast a shadow on the Clark County School Board meeting Thursday, with participants trying to keep pressure on district officials to improve how bullying is handled.

“How many kids are we going to lose before we take this seriously?” said 19-year-old Erika Greisen, who planned the vigil outside the board room with her group, Las Vegas Against Bullying. She experienced bullying herself in the Clark County School District and said she got little help from school officials. She graduated high school in 2013.

Hailee blamed a bully and White Middle School in her suicide note. In the months following Hailee’s death, her father, Jason Lamberth, struggled to get answers from district officials. He was never told by Hailee or the Henderson school that she was bullied. The district told Lamberth that it had no record of Hailee being bullied.

Lamberth, however, discovered from an anonymous tipster that someone officially reported to the school three weeks before Hailee’s death that she was being bullied. When Lamberth obtained Hailee’s student file, it included the bullying report.

“They (district officials) never say, ‘We’re sorry. We screwed up,’” said Gina Greisen, Erika Greisen’s mother. “It’s always circle the wagons.”

In reaction to Lamberth’s pleas for holding school officials accountable, the district put forth new district regulations in November to make school reporting and investigations of bullying reports fall in line with state laws. But even the lawmaker who wrote the bill for Nevada’s anti-bullying law said the district’s proposed regulations still fall short, requiring parents be informed of bullying reports in three days when the law’s intent is immediate notification, said Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas.

Lamberth has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the district and partnered with lawmakers to strengthen anti-bullying laws.

Lamberth didn’t have a hand in planning Thursday’s vigil, but he was thankful for it.

“It means Hailee’s voice is still being heard,” said Lamberth.

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