A San Antonio man is suing his son’s middle school classmates and their parents, accusing the students of starting online rumors suggesting his teenage son was planning a school shooting.
Derek Rothschild’s lawsuit seeks to unmask the unnamed Tex Hill Middle School students who spread the gossip on social media in January, the San Antonio Express-Newsreported. It’s the first lawsuit to invoke David’s Law, named for a Texas high school student who killed himself in 2016 after being cyberbullied.
The lawsuit also seeks $50,000 in damages.
The lawsuit alleges that the students posted on social media that Rothschild’s 14-year-old son was most likely to shoot up a school and spread rumors about an alleged planned attack.
School officials investigated the claims and determined they weren’t credible, according to the lawsuit. District officials have refused to identify the students who spread the rumors, but said they have been disciplined.
“The rumors were mean-spirited, wholly false and intended to hurt” the eighth-grader, said Justin Nichols, the family’s attorney.
Rothschild said the district didn’t clear his son’s name or provide him with counseling and resources as required under David’s Law. The 2017 legislation makes specific requirements for a school’s response to cyberbullying, which Nichols said the school district failed to follow.
Nichols said other students had overheard Rothschild’s son joking about the rumors with his friends and reported the comments to school officials, who interpreted them as threatening. It led school officials to order the teen to attend a disciplinary alternative education program until the end of the school year, even though they found no credibility to the rumors, Nichols said.
His parents decided to home school him instead.
Aubrey Chancellor, a spokeswoman for the North East Independent School District, said administrators took appropriate actions to address the situation.
“The district made it clear at the beginning of the school year that all threats against schools would be subject to disciplinary action,” Chancellor said.