LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A lawsuit has been filed against the Clark County School District and the principal and assistant principal of Garehime Elementary School by a parent and former teacher at the school.
The lawsuit was filed by Michelle Cox. She is claiming that Principal Ryan Lewis and Assistant Principal Jorge Palacious did not protect her daughter from bullying at their school and cost Cox her career as a teacher.
The trouble appears to have begun in 2018 with Cox’s daughter, who was in the 5th grade at the time, claimed she felt threatened by another student in her class who was known to have behavioral issues.
The child’s behavior was reportedly so bad that the classroom's teacher established a safe word that could be used if he became violent in the classroom. If the teacher used the safe word, the class would immediately evacuate to another classroom.
According to the lawsuit, the student reportedly told Cox’s daughter “When I am older, I’m going to murder somebody. Somebody that used to annoy me, somebody like you.”
The student felt threatened and told her teacher. The teacher reportedly it immediately as required. However, after no action was taken against the student, Cox questioned the assistant principal about the incident and he claimed to be unaware.
In December, the assistant principal summoned both students to his office and made the student accused of bullying apologize to Cox's daughter. As a result, the girl became even more fearful of the student and told her parents that she did not want to live anymore.
Cox then spoke to the school’s principal who reportedly called the female student into his office afterwards and told her “This is how the world is. This kind of thing is always going to happen.”
Cox continued to express her dissatisfaction as a parent with how things were being handled without satisfactory results and her daughter developed severe anxiety and depression and was forced to withdraw from school.
According to Cox, she was also forced to take FMLA leave, which was approved by the school district, to attend to her daughter. She alleges that the district “consistently interfered with Mrs. Cox’s ability to take the leave, forcing her to perform work while out and penalizing her for taking leave, and then forcing her to resign by refusing to provide her further leave.”
After another incident involving her daughter, Cox approached school district officials, including Supt. Jara. She was promised there would be an investigation into the threats and possible retaliation against her for speaking up. When the investigation was concluded in June 2019, she was told that she could not know the results.
Cox transferred to another school for the 2019-2020 school year and her daughter also switched schools. However, her daughter continued to experience problems because of the situation she endured at Garehime.
In October 2019, Cox reached out to a school board trustee for help to find out the results of the investigation.
An assistant superintendent was assigned to investigate and the superintendent concluded that school administrators didn’t follow procedure after the murder comment was reported in November.
The assistant superintendent also noted that the school "created the climate and conditions to perpetuate the presence of bullying.”
Eventually, believing that no action would ever taken against the principal and vice principal or other members of the administration who were involved or had knowledge of the issues, Cox decided to file a lawsuit.
13 Action News reached out to the Clark County School District for comment on the lawsuit and were told that they do not comment on pending litigation.