Lawsuit: Bullying over Christian beliefs led to death of Lorel M - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Lawsuit: Bullying over Christian beliefs led to death of Lorel Malone

Lorel Ka’heim Malone Lorel Ka’heim Malone
MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) -

The death of Lorel Ka’heim Malone, a 12-year-old Magnolia Middle School student, shocked the Moss Point community more than a year ago. Lorel died on March 7, 2014 after a fight at school the day before sent him to the hospital.

The Moss Point School District, School Board, former Superintendent Maggie Griffin and former Magnolia Middle Principal Joanne Pettaway are named as defendants in the suit.

According to the lawsuit filed by Lorel’s parents, Dominic Malone and Lakenisa Nobles, he enrolled at Magnolia Middle School for the 2014 spring semester and immediately became a target of bullying and ridicule at the hands of his classmates. The suit claims he was bullied because of his religious beliefs, size, clothing and appearance.

The documents paint Lorel as “a deeply religious young man” who “acted out his religious beliefs in his daily life.” Lorel was known for handing out religious crosses, pictures of angels and advocating against bullying with his slogan “be a hero, take a stand.”

The suit claims Lorel’s relatives met with school administrators several times to report the harassment and bullying.

Lorel’s relatives met with Pettaway for the first time regarding the issues, which usually happened in his seventh grade math class, in January of 2014. Pettaway promised the family she “would get to the bottom of the matter.”

The suit claims the school district’s solution to the bullying was to move Lorel into a different math class, which further isolated him while allowing his tormentors to continue the abusive behavior.

 “This remedy was, in essence, punishment for Lorel Ka’heim Malone for his reporting the incidents of bullying and harassment because of his religious beliefs,” the suit alleges.

Malone met with school administrators again after Lorel was harassed and assaulted on the school bus in February of 2014. Once again, Pettaway promised she would “get to the bottom of things.”

According to the lawsuit, Lorel complained about the bullying at school every day after that and even begged his parents to allow him to stay home to escape his tormentors.

Malone spoke with school administrators one last time four days before the fight that ultimately led to his son’s untimely death. After another bullying incident Malone “demanded that the school protect his son, requested a meeting and was given an appointment with the principal for March 7, 2014.” Once again, Pettaway told Malone “we will get to the bottom of this.”

Lorel was attacked by one or more students while in between classes on March 6, 2014. Lorel collapsed on the floor, where he remained unconscious until paramedics arrived.

Lorel was eventually transferred to USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile, AL, where he died from complications involving his heart the next day.

According to the lawsuit, it was the school district’s indifference, lack of training, failure to take any meaningful action and empty promises that signaled to Lorel’s tormentors that their actions were “not just tolerated by the district, but to some extent, sanctioned.”

Malone and Nobles are seeking compensation for Lorel’s loss of enjoyment of life and society, lost wages, funeral expenses, as well as their own pain, suffering, mental anguish and attorney fees.

We have reached out to the Moss Point School District for comment regarding the lawsuit. We are waiting for a response.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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