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Mother of bullied student who died by suicide files lawsuit against Liberty School District

By Gabe Swartz

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    LIBERTY, Missouri (KCTV) — The mother of a Liberty North student who committed suicide in March 2023 is suing the Liberty School District.

Kristi Rice is pursuing a wrongful death claim against the Liberty School District after her son, 16-year-old Logan LeBlanc attempted suicide on March 6, 2023. Five days later he was pronounced dead.

In the lawsuit, which names the Liberty School District and seven employees, Rice alleges that concerns brought to the district by family members went unaddressed or not dressed through proper District protocols. It also alleges that after LeBlanc’s suicide took place the District “did its best to sweep this under the rug.”

Along with Liberty School District superintendent Dr. Jeremy Tucker, seven district employees were named in the suit. Those seven employees include Precious Kurth, the principal of Liberty North High School; Lee Allen and Joshua Baldwin, each an assistant principal of Liberty North; Jill Brock and Neil Corriston, each a counselor at Liberty North; Susan Lynn, LeBlanc’s Spanish teacher; and Matt Barnard, LeBlanc’s math teacher.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Daniel Zmijewski, cites a district-drafted policy related to addressing and correcting bullying and recognizing the signs of suicide and specific actions to take, in hopes of preventing it.

“(Liberty School District) is charged with the duty of educating and caring for children,” the lawsuit states.

The start of Logan’s problems The lawsuit claims that LeBlanc’s problems began during his freshman year at Liberty North during the 2021-22 academic year.

During his freshman year, LeBlanc played football but was targeted by kids for his weight, haircut and political opinions. By September, the bullying impacted him to the point that he wrote a note to his Spanish teacher Susan Lynn.

“I’m not happy, I can’t do this anymore,” the note read. “This whole place makes me sad and I just want to go home I don’t like it in this school anymore I can’t do this, I want to go home.”

A picture of that note was eventually forwarded to Rice at the end of the school day. Recognizing a concern, his mother “quickly sought medical care” leading to a medical provider diagnosing LeBlanc with depression. That diagnosis was relayed to the District so it was aware of his condition. Still, the lawsuit claims the District did not invoke any suicide prevention policies for him.

Issues with the “Mercenaries” Eventually, Logan told his grandfather school was hard because he was being made fun of and intimidated by a group nicknamed the “Mercenaries.”

Issues with the group led LeBlanc’s grandfather to make a “concerted effort” to walk into school after dropping off Logan to speak directly with the administration. After advising Assistant Principal Lee Allen on what was going on and the suffering his grandson was going through, a demand was given to know when anything would be done.

“The only response he ever received from Lee was simple acknowledgment followed by ‘what do you want me to do?’” the lawsuit said.

Despite numerous complaints, in violation of the Liberty School District’s JFCF policy requiring a report be written and an investigation conducted, Lee never wrote a single report that the teen’s family ever saw and his family was never advised of any investigation into the repeated bullying.

Mental health ‘at its very lowest’ On Nov. 15, 2021, Logan reached out to his math teacher Matt Barnard for help. His note read as follows:

“I know I didn’t stay after school and that was my fault I’m sorry, I have a lot on my mind and my mental health is at its very lowest I have been focusing on my happiness because honestly Mr. Barnard you are the first and probably only person I’m gonna say this to as of now but there are times that suicide has came across my mind, I’m in a terrible spot mentally and I really need a break but until then I promise I will work as hard as I can.”

The note was forwarded to LeBlanc’s mother but no measures were put in place to monitor and protect him from suicidal ideation. His family said that he received care in the form of a therapist and medicine outside of school while the school allowed him to see his counselor in school when necessary.

Physical altercations lead to suspension According to the lawsuit, bullying eventually led to physical altercations. Multiple fights in the bathroom led to multiple suspensions for LeBlanc.

“The District chose to blame Logan for being the victim of the Mercenaries’ unprovoked attacks,” the lawsuit said.

After a summer break heading into his sophomore year, Logan decided not to play football and instead center his focus on making the baseball team in the Spring. But hope for improvement was “quickly extinguished when early in the school year it was reported to Logan’s mother that he was in a fight at school.”

Later, the lawsuit said that LeBlanc had to defend himself against a trespasser — a student from Liberty Academy — who walked into the school multiple times to harass him. Assistant Principal Joshua Baldwin allegedly told his parents that Logan would be suspended two weeks for fighting and that there was nothing to be done to the other child because he wasn’t a student at Liberty North.

Cut from the baseball team While the bullying continued against Logan throughout the Fall and into the Winter, his focus remained on baseball tryouts.

In late February, he tried out for the team. Despite interest from the pitching coach, Logan was cut on Friday, March 3, 2023. Three days later, Logan attempted suicide. He was found within minutes by his grandparents. All attempts to save him failed and, on March 11, 2023, he was pronounced brain dead.

“Despite claiming it cares about students’ mental health and (saying) it will educate all employees and students on signs of mental distress and suicidal ideations, the District did its best to sweep this under the rug,” the lawsuit claimed.

LeBlanc’s family claims the District did not hold its typical balloon release for students that have died and did not disclose to students that Logan committed suicide. The lawsuit claims the Mercenaries continue to cause issues on other kids at Liberty North and that some of them “had the audacity to go to Logan’s funeral.”

“By not addressing the Mercenaries and the repeated bullying taking place, the District has emboldened the Mercenaries to continue their reign of fear through the school.”

The lawsuit includes one count of negligent supervision resulting in wrongful death and another count of breach of fiduciary duty.

It alleges that the defendants “breached their ministerial duty to properly supervise their students, including Logan and to intervene effectively to stop bullying that ultimately led to Logan’s suicide.”

KCTV reached out to the Liberty School District for comment.

First and foremost, the loss of a member of our school community is the ultimate tragedy, and our thoughts continue to be with the family and friends of this young person that was lost too soon. Liberty Public Schools takes the health, safety, and welfare of all of our students seriously, and we have Board policies in place to address this. Our school team works tirelessly to ensure our students have resources readily available if in need of extra support. Due to pending litigation, we are extremely limited in what we can share additionally at this time. We will have no further comment regarding this matter, and will instead let the legal process take place.

Liberty Public Schools

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