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A music teacher in Wyoming has pled not guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection to the case of a fifth-grade boy who committed suicide at school earlier this year.
Paul Pine, a fifth-grade student at Carpenter Elementary School in Laramie County, Wyoming, struggled with his mental health during the 2022-23 school year. His mother, Chandel Pine, claimed that Paul had difficulty reading, causing him to be "singled out" by various teachers and staff members, several outlets reported.
Last fall, Paul told his mother that he was having thoughts about killing himself, specifically about hanging himself in the boys' bathroom at school. After that, Chandel Pine contacted school officials and made arrangements for an individualized education program to try and keep him safe at school. The principal also instructed teachers and staff not to permit students to use the restroom unaccompanied.
Even with those protections in place, Paul told a teacher in December that he had brought a knife to school and that he was having "some scary thoughts." Paul's father then came and picked him up from school.
Administrators considered expelling Paul for bringing a weapon to school, and he was kept away from school for more than a week. Three days before Christmas break, he was permitted to return on a probationary basis.
"I emailed the attorney for the school district, and I spoke to the principal many times. I spoke to the superintendent many times," Chandel Pine said. "Eventually, I spoke in front of the Board of Trustees, begging them to not punish my child for asking for help."
A few weeks later, on January 9, Paul was in music class with teacher Amelia Giordano. During class, Paul asked to use the bathroom, and Giordano allegedly granted him permission. Paul was then gone 17 minutes, during which time Giordano and another adult peeked in the open door of the boys' bathroom several times, according to reports of school surveillance footage. The principal then entered the bathroom, saw Paul hanging on a coat rack in a bathroom stall, clearly in medical distress, and immediately attempted CPR.
They managed to revive Paul, and he was then flown to a hospital in Denver. Sadly, he died three days later, just a month shy of his 12th birthday.
In late July, Giordano, 31, was charged with abandoning or endangering a child, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The Laramie County District Attorney’s office claimed in court documents that Giordano "let a juvenile student (Paul Pine) be unattended after safety measures were put in place, contributing to (Pine’s) suicide."
On Thursday, Giordano pled not guilty to the charge and was released on her own recognizance. She is scheduled for another hearing in November. She remains listed as a music teacher at Carpenter and Pine Bluffs Elementary Schools on the district website.
The principal of Carpenter Elementary and the superintendent of Laramie County School District #2 did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.
"We had followed all the safety plans. We’d put our knives, like steak knives, out of the kitchen, all in a safe. I took away all of his charging cords, all of his belts, his flat sheets, everything. Everything that was in the safety plan, I followed to a T to make sure he was safe," Chandel Pine said. "… We expected the school to follow the safety plan."
The family is also considering filing a civil suit against the district.
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.