Jack Reid, 17, was falsely accused of being a rapist and driven to despair at an elite boarding school in New Jersey. With a Bible on his person and a note of direction to his parents in his pocket, he committed suicide last year.
The Lawrenceville School, the tuition for which is roughly $76,000 per year, admitted over the weekend that it failed the boy, falling "tragically short" of prioritizing his "physical, social, and emotional health, safety, and wellbeing."
Not only did it fail to curb the boy's abuse by other students, the school withheld evidence of Reid's innocence from both the public and from Reid's family.
What's the background?
Reid first evidenced his qualities as a compassionate leader at the Buckley School on Manhattan's upper east side, serving as chairman of the student council. Reid went on to attend Lawrenceville as a 10th-grader in 2020, making friends and the dean's list.
The school, located between Trenton and Princeton, has approximately 830 students and is touted as one of the nation's top 10 boarding schools.
The New York Times reported that things went well for Reid until the spring of 2021, when his apparent greatness inspired envy and cruelty in at least one student, who trafficked the rumor that Reid was a rapist.
This rumor reportedly spread widely, eliciting further nastiness and abuse from other students.
Notwithstanding the unrelenting and unwarranted personal attacks, Reid still managed to secure the student presidency of Dickinson House, one of the school's five boarding houses.
The ostensible support of the student electorate apparently inspired Reid's bully to double down on his attacks.
The bullying manifested in various ways. Around Christmas, when students engaged in a secret Santa gift exchange, Jack was gifted a rape whistle and a book about how to make friends, reported the Times.
Attacks directed at Reid also circulated online.
Injustice upon injustice
Too little, too late
The Lawrenceville School indicated that in the aftermath of its fatal failure to protect Reid, it will bring on a specialist to help construct anti-bullying policies; contribute to the Jack Reid Foundation, an educational and anti-bullying foundation set up in his memory; hire a dean of "campus wellbeing"; hold workshops and trainings to promote awareness of adolescent mental health; and pursue other anti-bullying initiatives.
These measures and the statement issued by the school over the weekend are part of a negotiated settlement with the boy's parents, Elizabeth and Bill Reid, reported the Times.
Elizabeth Reid said of her son's death, "We feel like we both have life sentences without the possibility of parole. ... The only thing I’d love to change here is to get Jack back. I can’t."
"I do know if he were alive, he would want me — both of us — to try to make something good out of this and honor him in the way he lived his life," she added.
Stephen Murray, the head of the school, said, "This happened on my watch and I’m grief stricken. And yet I can’t begin to compare that to the grief and sorrow of Bill and Elizabeth Reid."
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