Family sues Catholic school over bullying, expulsion of victim
HAMMOND - A 14-year-old girl says two boys bullied her to the point she was having suicidal thoughts and now her family is suing after they were forced out of the school.
Wednesday, Jeanie and Greg Holmes filed suit against Holy Ghost Catholic School in Hammond, the Diocese of Baton Rouge and the alleged bullies parents.
The Holmes' 14-year-old daughter was bullied at school and online for more than a year, according to the family.
Jeanie found out about the situation when she found a note her daughter wrote to herself.
"It said I was there the night you pulled your blade back out," Jeanie Holmes said. "What does a mother do with that? All you know is that it is dark."
Jeanie confronted her daughter about the note. Her daughter confessed a two boys were bullying her to the point she was having suicidal thoughts and depression.
"Right now, let's just put it that this child was so severely bullied that she wound up in a hospital with probably a virtual suicide note," the family's attorney Felix Sternfels said.
"I don't know why she was a target but she certainly was and they worn her down, and that's unacceptable," Jeanie Holmes said.
She brought the alleged bullying to the attention of Holy Ghost administrators and the boys were given two days of in-school suspension, according to Holmes.
Holmes 21-year-old son then picketed outside of the school with posters that reads "Bullying victims are punished here".
On the same day as the protest, the Holmes were asked to remove their 14-year-old daughter and their 7-year-old daughter from the school.
Holy Ghost did not comment on the situation.
The Baton Rouge Diocese released a statement saying, "These actions were taken in accordance with handbook and policy of the school and diocese. The discipline was serious, was more than detentions but less than expulsion and was designed to teach them that bullying is not acceptable at Holy Ghost or anywhere else."
The diocese went on to say the kids were expelled because of the father threatening Holy Ghost's principal and pastor.
The diocese placed a restraining order against Greg Holmes after his kids were expelled.
Jeanie Holmes says her husband was upset but threatened no one.
The family contends the boys should have been expelled and argue school administrators told them their kids were kicked out because they spoke out against the school.
"That's our premise. If you're going to enforce one enforce them all. And we would have never spoken out against our school in our lives had this situation been handled properly," Jeanie Holmes said.
The family is suing for no less than $50,000 to pay for medical costs and pain and suffering.
Hammond police are investigating the alleged bullying with the help of the state attorney general.