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15th Sep 2023

Family reaches £21.7 million settlement after son bullied to death at school

Charlie Herbert

Family reaches £21.7 million settlement after son bullied to death at school

Diego Stolz had told staff about the bullying, but nothing was done

A family in California has reached a $27 million settlement (£21.7m) after their 13-year-old son was punched to death at school.

On September 16, 2019, Diego Stolz was punched to death at his middle school by two 14-year-old boys.

The pair pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and assault in juvenile court and were sentenced to 47 days in jail plus community service and therapy, NBC News reports.

Now, the Stolz family have reached a settlement with the San Moreno Valley Unified School District, described as the largest ever “in a school bullying case in the United States.”

The family’s legal counsel at Taylor & Ring LLP said in a post on Facebook: “Diego was, by all accounts, the sweetest nicest kid you could ever meet. When the bullies confronted him yet again (for no good reason), Diego put his hands to his side because he was told to never fight at school. The two bullies sucker-punched him and killed him.”

Diego Stolz died after he was attacked by two bullies in September 2019 (Taylor & Ring/Facebook)

The family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district, accusing school administrators of not taking appropriate action after Diego had told them about the bullying.

“The school had promised Diego and his family the prior week that the boys would be disciplined and suspended. They weren’t,” Taylor & Ring said in their statement. “The following Monday when Diego came to his middle school, they killed him. We hope this case is a [wake-up] call to all schools in the U.S. – take your anti-bullying policies seriously, and when a student complains, take action. You have a duty to protect kids at school.”

In footage of the incident shared on social media, the bullies were seen to punch Diego from behind, causing him to fall over and hit his head on a concrete pillar.

The two bullies then continued to punch him.

Diego died nine days later from a brain injury.

In a letter to families and school staff, Moreno Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Martinrex Kedziora said: “Regarding anti-bullying efforts … there have been many changes that have happened these past few years.

“A few of those changes include a district-wide centralized online bullying form; distribution of classroom posters regarding the definition of bullying, types of bullying and how to report it; distribution of business cards with a QR code to report bullying; shortcuts on student Chromebooks that will go directly to the online bullying form; and updates of district and school websites to feature videos, links and resources regarding bullying.”

Kedziora continued: “On behalf of the Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education, we want you to know that we truly care about each and every student and staff member in our district.

“The news of Diego’s death was not something we took lightly. The safety and well-being of our students will remain our top priority.”

Following his death, Stolz’s family donated Diego’s organs to that their tragedy could be ‘transformed into the gift of life for other children.’

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