Ever since Matthew Burdette committed suicide in November, his family has struggled to make sense of the 14-year-old boy’s death. They believe they’ve finally pieced together the reason why their son took his own life while at their family cabin in California celebrating Thanksgiving.
Timothy and Barbara Burdette are suing the San Diego Unified School District because they say they believe a teacher, administrator, and possibly other staff members knew one of Matthew’s classmates had secretly taken a video of him in the school bathroom and that it had gone viral – but did nothing to stop it, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Matthew was reportedly kicked out of class at University City High School two weeks before his suicide because he was caught eating sunflower seeds. The teacher didn’t tell him where to go, and he ended up in the bathroom.A classmate allegedly looked over the stall and filmed the teen touching himself, reports Daily Mail. His peer then reportedly uploaded the video to Snapchat, Vine and other sites, and students at his school – as well as at schools across California – viewed the footage.
For the next two weeks, Matthew’s life was “miserable,” according to his aunt, Laura Burdette Mechak, who spoke with News 10. He was bullied and ridiculed relentlessly, and his parents were never made aware of the existence of the video.
Matthew, who was a Boy Scout and was on the wrestling and water polo teams at his school, left a suicide note, in which he said he didn’t want to kill himself, but that he had “no friends,” Mechak said.
The boy’s family says they asked the school for answers, but administrators were not cooperative. They filed a $1 million claim against the district, arguing it didn’t protect their son under the California Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000 and the California Safe Place Act. They have six months to file a lawsuit.
Officials at the San Diego Police Department told the Burdettes the boy responsible for the video had confessed and was arrested, reports RTV6. A hearing will be held on July 23.
Representatives from the District claim members did not know about the video circulating on social media sites. They failed to provide details about whether the student responsible was being disciplined for the matter. The also released the following statement on Monday:
At San Diego Unified, the safety and well-being of our students is a top priority. The district also adheres to the privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations related to students, families and ongoing investigations. For this reason, the district cannot provide details about Matthew Burdette’s death. Our hearts and thoughts continue to be with his family and loved ones.