Days before he was viciously attacked in school, 13-year-old Diego Stolz approached an administrator and told her that other students were bullying him. According to the attorney representing the victim’s family, Landmark Middle School took no action, and Stolz was assaulted and killed by the same bullies.
Juan and Felipe Salcedo, Diego’s aunt and uncle, raised him from age 1 after his mother’s death. Represented by attorney Dave Ring, they have filed a wrongful death suit against Moreno Valley Unified School District.
According to the claim, Stolz and his adult cousin Jazmin went to Landmark’s assistant principal seeking help. He stated that he had been “verbally and physically” harassed the previous day.
According to Ring, Stolz was being bullied by a group of boys who had been his friends, but had turned on him during seventh grade for unknown reasons.
Stolz and the assistant principal held a private meeting for 20 minutes, after which she told Jazmin that the bullies would receive a three-day suspension. According to the claim, she also told them that their class schedules would be changed.
Stolz was informed that he could miss school on that Friday, and resume on Monday.
During a press conference, Jazmin said, “He was so relieved that he had talked to someone. We were on our drive back home, and I turned around and I told him, ‘I’m always going to defend you. You know that, right?’ And he nodded his head, ‘I know.’”
Believing that the school would take care of the issue, Stolz enjoyed his weekend. However, once he got to school on Monday, he was shocked to see the boys.
During lunch, he was confronted, attacked, and beat down by two boys. The incident was caught on a cell phone video, which showed Stolz hit his head on a pillar as he fell to the ground.
Nine days after the incident, he was pronounced clinically dead and taken off life support.
Ring stated: “That’s what’s unbelievably devastating to this family, that this could have been prevented. It could have been prevented if this school took bullying seriously.”
He added, “My information is that the assistant principal did absolutely nothing with that information, ever.”
In a statement sent to KTLA, Moreno Valley school district spokeswoman Anahi Velasco maintained that the district was not legally liable for his death. “The two boys who attacked and killed Diego are responsible for this death,” she wrote in an email.
She addressed the allegations that the district took no action to prevent Stolz from being bullied: “Bullying in schools is a national issue. This issue constitutes a shared responsibility amongst parents, students, school district personnel, community leaders and law enforcement. Together, we need to send a resounding message these behaviors will not be tolerated in our schools. Keeping kids safe in schools is a high priority at MVUSD.”
The suit is seeking $100 million, and the family also wants policy changes within the school district to prevent such incidents from reoccurring.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office has charged two 13-year-old boys with voluntary manslaughter and assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury in connection to Stolz’ death.
Their names have not been released due to their ages.