Couple Can Sue School After Student Commits Suicide: Judge

The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that the grandparents of a student who took his own life after speaking with a high school counselor can sue the school district.

A judge ruled that Linda and Frederick Rogers have sufficient grounds to sue the Christiana School District, Newark High school and a school counselor for the 2009 suicide death of their 16-year-old grandson Roger Ellerbe, Jr., according to The News Journal.

Ellerbe took his life at home after speaking with a counselor at Newark High School about his suicidal thoughts and other problems, the paper reports. A judge ruled that the couple should have been notified so that they could respond accordingly.

The ruling reversed a 2012 Superior court decision that neither the school nor the district had any special legal relationship to Ellerbe and could not be held liable for something he did at home, according to the paper.

But the Supreme Court said that the claim of negligence can be pursued since the school district requires the counselor to stay with the student, assess the situation, contact parents, get help, document and follow up.

The counselor says she called Linda Rogers’ work number and left a message but that job had been terminated earlier in the year when her company shut down, according to the paper.  The counselor did not call the home, according to court records.

Linda Rogers told The News Journal she’s happy that the case will continue.

“I’m going to let God be God and let him have his way,” she said. “He knows all things. I didn’t get a chance to know what was going on with Mac. There’s nothing I can do for Mac at this point, but we can try to help other children.”

In a hearing last fall, attorneys for the school district argued that the school had no duty to protect the student after he left the school premises and returned home, according to the paper.

The case heads back to the Superior Court.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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