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HomeNewsItalian parents sue New York boarding school where son died by suicide

Italian parents sue New York boarding school where son died by suicide

An Italian household is suing the elite New York boarding college the place their 17-year-old son died by suicide in February, accusing the college of maintaining him in “solitary confinement” whereas ready for them to reach after he was expelled for dishonest on a math project.

Officers at EF Academy, a non-public highschool in Thornwood, about 35 miles north of New York Metropolis, contributed to the demise of 17-year-old Claudio Mandia by expelling him and placing him in solitary confinement regardless of being conscious of private points that had affected his tutorial efficiency, together with a bout with Covid and the demise of an in depth member of the family, in accordance with the swimsuit filed final Friday in Westchester County Supreme Courtroom by his father, Mauro Mandia, and one other consultant of the boy’s property.

The submitting additionally alleges that the college “usually recklessly disregards the psychological wants of its college students,” noting {that a} classmate of Claudio had tried kill himself and that Claudio had witnessed it over a 12 months earlier than his personal demise.

The swimsuit alleges wrongful demise, negligence, false imprisonment and emotional misery, amongst different fees, towards the college, its dad or mum firm, 4 college officers recognized by title and 20 others who stay unnamed and who the grievance alleges “contributed to the hurt set forth.” It calls for each punishment for the college and compensation for the Mandia household in gentle of Claudio’s demise.

A spokesperson for EF Academy mentioned in an announcement that the college group stays “deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Claudio Mandia, and our hearts exit to his household, associates, and our whole college group throughout this unimaginably tough time.”

The assertion went on to characterize the submitting as containing “a number of inaccurate statements,” and disputed the declare that Mandia was “positioned in solitary confinement.”

“The narrative that’s shared within the authorized submitting isn’t correct or primarily based on truth,” the assertion mentioned. “We’re assured that the authorized course of will enable us to offer and show a fact-based authorized case recounting what really transpired.”

‘He was underneath excessive stress’

Claudio’s mother and father, Mandia and Elisabetta Benesatto, elected to ship their son to the elite boarding college — the place tuition runs greater than $66,000 a 12 months for full-time boarders — greater than 4,000 miles from their residence in Battipaglia, Italy, as a result of it promised a rigorous tutorial program that might enable Claudio to satisfy his dream of attending a high college in Italy, in accordance with the grievance.

The varsity additionally has two different campuses, in Oxford, England and Pasadena, California.

Within the spring of 2020, after he had accomplished his first two years of highschool in Italy, Claudio’s mother and father enrolled him within the EF Academy’s two-year Worldwide Baccalaureate Program in New York, which supplies a “globally acknowledged elite diploma,” the grievance states.

Claudio did properly in his first 12 months on the college, in accordance with the grievance, which options feedback from his former academics who referred to as him “an excellent math pupil,” “an excellent pleasure to have in school” and “respectful and trustworthy.”

Claudio Mandia.Courtesy The Mandia Household

However the his second and closing 12 months on the college was beset with challenges, the grievance outlines.

“As EF Academy knew, [Claudio’s] time period was off to a tough begin and that he was underneath excessive stress,” the grievance states.

When he was residence in Italy for winter break in December 2021, Claudio, his mom and three sisters all caught Covid, which delayed the return of Claudio and one among his sisters, who additionally attended EF Academy, inflicting him to fall behind in school, the grievance alleges.

When Claudio and his sister lastly returned to the campus on Jan. 25, he “was inundated with assignments that had amassed whereas he was quarantined and had impending deadlines,” inflicting him to sleep little or no and present up late to class, leading to a Saturday detention he needed to serve a little bit greater than per week earlier than his demise.

Just below two weeks later, Claudio “suffered the sudden lack of an in depth member of the family,” who allegedly died of a coronary heart situation, in accordance with the grievance. The loss “upset him terribly” and led him to hunt counseling from the college’s Director of Psychological Well being Providers, Chelsea Lovece, who is called as a defendant within the grievance.

The lawsuit alleges a cost of social employee malpractice towards Lovece, claiming she was not correctly supervised by a licensed psychologist and repeatedly “deviated and/or departed from the accepted normal of social employee care.”

Lovece didn’t reply to request for remark Thursday. A spokesperson for the college didn’t reply to a query about whether or not she stays employed there, citing the continuing litigation.

Claudio had begun seeing Lovece for psychological well being counseling greater than a 12 months earlier, after witnessing the suicide try of one other pupil who was additionally expelled and positioned in solitary confinement — and now credit Claudio with saving his life, in accordance with the grievance. However Claudio’s mother and father had been by no means knowledgeable he was receiving psychological well being remedy throughout that 14-month interval, the grievance claims, including that the college has continued to refuse to launch any particulars of his counseling periods to his mother and father or their lawyer.

“The protection of our college group is at all times our high precedence, and we take the bodily and psychological well-being of our college students extraordinarily critically,” a consultant for the college mentioned in its assertion.

He ‘screamed and cried for assist’

Quickly after studying of his relative’s demise, Claudio “was accused of and admitted to hiring a classmate to draft a math paper for him,” the grievance states, including that he was underneath “excessive stress” on the time.

A person reads funeral posters for Claudio Mandia
An individual reads funeral posters for Claudio Mandia in Battipaglia, Italy, on Feb. 25.Ivan Romano / Getty Pictures file

The grievance alleges that, as punishment for dishonest, college officers expelled him and “pressured him into solitary confinement” on Feb. 14 till his mother and father may choose him up from Italy.

Officers advised Claudio to not go away the isolation room and determined that each one his meals could be delivered to him, the grievance alleges.

The grievance claims the college additionally “forbade C.M. from almost all direct contact with different human beings, allowed rotting trash to build up within the room, and on the day earlier than his anticipated departure (and in the end his demise), he was not fed breakfast or lunch, that means he went almost 24 hours with no meal,” aside from a serving of rooster nuggets from McDonald’s.

Claudio “screamed and cried for assist whereas held in solitary confinement” whereas college officers allegedly ignored his pleas and refused his mother and father’ request that they permit him to go away the room they had been maintaining him in, in accordance with the grievance.

The day earlier than he was anticipated to depart, Claudio interacted with at the least three college workers members whereas displaying indicators of tried suicide on his neck, in accordance with the grievance, which notes that as much as 15 of his classmates might have additionally seen the marks after they visited him to say goodbye, and that many “requested him questions on it.”

“[Claudio] mentioned he ‘fell within the bathe,'” the grievance states.

“Nonetheless, EF Academy saved [Claudio] in solitary confinement with out the required intervention, counseling, steering, medical care, psychological well being care, and supervision,” in accordance with the grievance.

The subsequent morning, Claudio’s sister requested Lovece to verify on her brother after she hadn’t but heard from him that day, the grievance mentioned.

Lovece advised the woman that she knocked on the door however no person answered, main her to imagine he was sleeping — and when she stopped by the room once more later, she discovered him useless by obvious suicide, the grievance alleges.

“EF Academy and its brokers knew that [Claudio] was in danger for suicide but recklessly saved him in isolation, which straight prompted his demise,” the grievance states.

The grievance additionally names EF Academy’s Head of Faculty, Dr. Vladimir Kuskovski; the Dean of College students, Wayne Walton; and Pathway Supervisor Jenna Korn as defendants, who the lawsuit alleges wrongly upheld the college’s solitary confinement protocol for college kids following expulsion. The swimsuit additionally accuses of EF Academy of negligence in retaining, supervising and coaching these staffers and others.

Kuskovski, Walton and Korn didn’t reply to requests for remark. EF Academy’s spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to an inquiry about whether or not they stay employed on the college, citing the continuing litigation.

A month-to-month replace posted to the college’s web site, dated from September, is signed from Kuskovski, who it lists as head of faculty. The web site additionally continues to record Korn in her function as a pathway supervisor.

Should you or somebody is in disaster, name 988 to achieve the Suicide and Disaster Lifeline. You may as well name the Nationwide Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, textual content HOME to 741741 or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/sources for extra sources.

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