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Parents file lawsuit after son, 15, committed suicide following decade of bullying at NJ schools

A New Jersey high schooler who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound two years ago committed suicide after being bullied by his classmates for nearly a decade while administrators and teachers did nothing to help him, his parents have claimed in a lawsuit.

Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel was a sophomore at Westfield High School, in Union County, when he died by suicide aged 15 in June 2018, a lawsuit obtained by DailyMail.com details.

His parents, Gene Uziel and Frances Testini, say their son was subjected to years of vile abuse which included being called racial slurs, stalked home after class and even physically attacked on dozens of occasions by students in the school district.

The suit, filed on June 16, also details how Carter was reportedly thrown against lockers, pushed to the ground, struck in the face by an ice ball and sexually assaulted multiple times at the hands of his fellow students.

The purported bullying began at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools in 2010 and continued at Westfield High School right up until the teenager’s tragic death.

‘Beginning in 2010, Carter Uziel was subjected to an ongoing pattern of harassment, intimidation and bullying by students of [all three schools],’ the lawsuit states.

Teachers, counselors and administrators were ‘fully aware but deliberately indifferent to [the bullying], resulting in substantial harm to him and ultimately causing Carter to take his own life,’ the Uziel family’s suit continues.

Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel was just 15-year-old when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on  June 17, 2018, a lawsuit obtained by DailyMail.com details

Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel was just 15-year-old when he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on  June 17, 2018, a lawsuit obtained by DailyMail.com details

The complaint alleges negligence, civil rights violations, hostile environment and retaliation. The Westfield Board of Education, Superintendent Margaret Dolan, and Westfield Township are all named as defendants in the suit.

Spokespersons for both the school district and the town declined to comment. Both cited their practice of not commenting on pending litigation.

Gene and Frances Uziel said they routinely pleaded with teachers at the school to do something about the alleged long-running abuse, but their protests always fell on deaf ears, they said.

In a June 10, 2014, email, the couple reportedly informed Superintendent Dolan of a number of instances of bullying their son had fallen victim to while studying at Edison.

The lawsuit details dozens of instances of bullying and unspecified acts of sexual assault across the entire school year, all of which were reported to Principal Matt Bolton at the time though no action was taken, the suit says.

One of the acts of bullying involved a student throwing an ice ball into the face of Carter, whose glasses reportedly broke from the impact. He was later thrown into a row of lockers by a fellow student in the hallway of the school, which again was reported to Bolton.

A spate of additional bullying then apparently occurred in the following academic year between November 2014 and May 2015.

On May 20, 2015, a student with a prior history of ‘bullying and other inappropriate behavior’ pulled down Carter’s pants in the middle of class.

The student ‘was not suspended for this action and Carter had to serve a detention,’ the suit states.

The suit, filed on June 16, also details how Carter was reportedly thrown against lockers, pushed to the ground, struck in the face by an ice ball and sexually assaulted multiple times at the hands of his fellow students

The suit, filed on June 16, also details how Carter was reportedly thrown against lockers, pushed to the ground, struck in the face by an ice ball and sexually assaulted multiple times at the hands of his fellow students

Carter was a was a sophomore at Westfield High School (above), in Union County, at the time of his death

Carter was a was a sophomore at Westfield High School (above), in Union County, at the time of his death

In the winter of 2016, Uziel was attacked and pushed up against a cabinet which ‘knock out the wind’ from him. His notebooks, homework and school supplies were also stolen and vandalized.

The parents reported both incidents in emails and verbally to schools Superintendent Margaret Dolan, the suit states.

In response, Dolan allegedly sent Gene Uziel a strongly-worded and dismissive email, accusing him of harassing district employees with his successive complaints about his son’s treatment at school.

‘You are the single and only parent out of the thousands of parents of our Westfield Public School students who has consistently attempted to harass and malign teachers, counselors, nurses and administrators in three different schools over several years,’ the email Dolan authored reads.

Superintendent Margaret Dolan (above) allegedly sent Gene Uziel a strongly-worded and dismissive email, accusing him of harassing district employees with his successive complaints about his son’s treatment at school

Superintendent Margaret Dolan (above) allegedly sent Gene Uziel a strongly-worded and dismissive email, accusing him of harassing district employees with his successive complaints about his son’s treatment at school

‘I do not believe that the district must continue to respond to further inappropriate, intentionally offensive or harassing communications,’ the email continues, with Dolan adding the district will no longer respond to the father’s complaints.

In retort, Gene responded: ‘This email involves no name calling, just the facts. In summation, because we believe that Carter has been inappropriately placed in an unsafe learning environment, this impedes education.’

It’s unclear if Dolan ever replied to Gene’s response. However, on December 22, 2017, the concerned father would once again contact Westfield Schools, this time emailing counselor Paul Valenzano that his son had ‘been bullied recently by two students’.

Gene further disclosed how, on December 20, one of the students had punched carter in the nose and had ‘stalked him for two days’.

In the same email, Gene informed Valenzano that during one lunch period, a number of students had used racial slurs against him, with one calling him a ‘Jewish c***’, in addition to a number of other unspecified insults.

In April 2018, the father reported to a Spanish-language teacher that his son was still being bullied and had been called racial slurs, the lawsuit states.

Then, tragically, just two months later, on June 17, Carter Uziel committed suicide. The lawsuit states that Gene and Frances had ‘encountered’ Cater immediately after hearing the shot ring out and ‘witnessed him bleeding from his head.’

The two parents tried to administer first aid to save their son’s life. He was taken to Rahway Hospital where he was pronounced dead just one hour later.

The complaint alleges negligence, civil rights violations, hostile environment and retaliation. The Westfield Board of Education, Superintendent Margaret Dolan, and Westfield Township are all named as defendants in the suit

The complaint alleges negligence, civil rights violations, hostile environment and retaliation. The Westfield Board of Education, Superintendent Margaret Dolan, and Westfield Township are all named as defendants in the suit

Heidi Weintraub, the attorney representing Carter’s parents, said: ‘Carter Uziel and his parents endured many years of pain and anguish not only because of the bullying to which Carter was subjected but also because of the district’s failure to take the appropriate measures to protect Carter from any future harm.

Details of the abuse listed in the lawsuit obtained by DailyMail.com

Heidi Weintraub, the attorney representing Carter’s parents, said: ‘Carter Uziel and his parents endured many years of pain and anguish not only because of the bullying to which Carter was subjected but also because of the district’s failure to take the appropriate measures to protect Carter from any future harm.

The purported bullying began at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools in 2010 and continued at Westfield High School right up until the teenager’s tragic death.

Roosevelt Intermediate School

The purported bullying began at Edison and Roosevelt Intermediate Schools  (left and right) in 2010 and continued at Westfield High School right up until the teenager’s tragic death.

The day after his death, Superintendent Dolan wrote a letter to the Uziel family.

‘Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community,’ Dolan’s letter read. ‘This tragic loss touches us all and we extend our condolences to Carter’s family.’

Heidi Weintraub, the attorney representing Carter’s parents, said: ‘Carter Uziel and his parents endured many years of pain and anguish not only because of the bullying to which Carter was subjected but also because of the district’s failure to take the appropriate measures to protect Carter from any future harm.

‘The district’s failure to provide him with a safe environment to learn and grow cost him his life.’

Carter’s parents are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, and have asked for a jury trial.

In a blog post about Carter’s death, dated October 2018, the teenager was remembered as a friendly, kind and funny student who told ‘lighthearted jokes’ and had a passion for theatre.

‘Carter was gentle. Patient. Funny. Vibrant. Genuine. He might not be here to see it, but the roots Carter planted will forever grow in WHS,’ the post reads.

Teacher Warren Hynes added of Carter that ‘I was a better teacher for having known him’.

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Written by Angle News

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