Drew Ferraro's family files $2-million claim

The family of a student who committed suicide at Crescenta Valley High School earlier this year has filed a $2-million claim against Glendale Unified, alleging that school officials failed to protect him from “constant bullying.”

Drew Ferraro, 15, climbed to the roof of a three-story building on the La Crescenta campus on Feb. 10 and leaped to his death in front of numerous students and staff.

Public safety officials have said that the teenager had a history of mental health problems. This assertion is supported by toxicology results that showed trace amounts of Citalopram, an anti-depressant, in Drew’s blood stream at the time of his death.

His parents, John and Deana Ferraro, have confirmed their son was being treated for depression, but argue that bullying played a role in his death, something that is refuted by officials.

The $2-million claim filed this week cites “wrongful death” and “emotional distress.”

“The facts haven’t changed,” said Jason Lieber, an attorney representing the Ferraro family. “Our position hasn’t changed. The school was definitely at fault. They didn’t take the proper steps in response to consistent bullying. They didn’t take proper steps to respond to the kid’s reaction to that bullying.”

Laid out in the claim are specific charges against the district, including that Glendale Unified officials were aware that Drew was the victim of bullying but failed to prevent it, and that they failed to prevent and warn of a “potential suicide attempt.” It also argues that the district did not take adequate steps to educate staff and students about bullying and ways to prevent it.

The district has 45 days to respond to the claim or to request an extension. If the claim is rejected, the family will sue, Lieber said.

Supt. Dick Sheehan said Friday that he had not yet reviewed the claim and declined to comment.

The suicide — complicated by the two conflicting stories about its cause — has been a painful chapter for the La Crescenta community.

Four notes found in Drew’s backpack did not reference bullying, according to Los Angeles Sheriff’s investigators. In a report accompanying autopsy results made public in May, the coroner investigator noted that there may have been warning signs.

“There was a report that he was thought to have been suicidal on the day before his death,” according to the narrative. “His parents had been informed; however, [Drew] did not go home from school, and he had been attending school the day of his death.”

John and Deana Ferraro have denied any knowledge that their son was suicidal. Lieber said this week that they dispute portions of the autopsy report, and that their primary focus is to prevent future, similar incidents.

“Drew’s parents are really interested in the school district reforming their policies,” Lieber said. “I can’t articulate that enough.... Their primary goal here is to see this doesn’t happen to anybody else.”

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