By Timithie NORMAN
A $2 million claim filed by the parents of Drew Ferraro against the Glendale Unified School District on July 23 was rejected at a Board of Education meeting on Aug. 14. The claim had asked for $1 million for Ferraro’s wrongful death and $1 million for emotional distress.
John and Deana Ferraro’s attorney Jason Leiber said that his office received official notice of the rejection on Tuesday.
“We will review the situation with the family and discuss how to best proceed,” he said. Previously, Leiber had said that should the claim be rejected, the Ferraros would follow up with a lawsuit. No suit has been filed to date.
Based on the kinds of claims and suits typically filed against GUSD, this $2-million claim stands out as being both costly and emotional. It alleges that the district did not prevent the constant bullying that they believe led to their son’s suicide, nor did the district educate staff or students about bullying.
According to Keyan Aghili, a claims and lawsuit administrator at Carl Warren and Company that represents GUSD, typical claims against the district involve auto accidents, student injuries on the playground and employment-related claims. The district has been sued six times in the last three years, and to date these cases have cost the district $216,891 in litigation and $2,500 in settlements.
The Ferraro case has been sensitive from the start. Drew Ferraro was a sophomore at Crescenta Valley High School when he jumped to his death from a three-story building at 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 10 of this year. He had a previous history of depression and, according to the coroner’s autopsy report, Ferraro tested positive for marijuana and the anti-depressant Citalopram.
Though his parents claim his death was a result of bullying, his backpack contained four suicide notes which, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lt. John Corina, “had nothing to do with drugs, alcohol or bullying.”
The coroner investigator’s report also claims that Ferraro’s parents were notified the day before his death that he was thought to have been suicidal; in response, John and Deana Ferraro released a statement in May saying they had not been notified and had they been, they would have kept him home “until he was doing better.”
Representative from Glendale Unified have said they are unable to comment on the case, pending litigation.