Tacoma Public Schools issued a statement Friday addressing rumors swirling on social media and elsewhere that a 13-year-old girl who killed herself last week was bullied or “shamed” at school.
Izabel Laxamana died May 30 after jumping from the South 48th Street overpass onto Interstate 5 the day before.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death a suicide.
Speculation about what caused her to take her life has been rampant on social media, including allegations that she was banned from running for a position with the Associated Student Body at Giaudrone Middle School and that there was an announcement at the school regarding her lack of participation.
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The district’s statement, posted on its website Friday, said the girl did not have parental permission to participate as a candidate. Such permission is a necessary requirement for someone seeking an ASB seat, the statement said.
“No announcement was made regarding Izabel’s lack of participation in elections,” the statement said. “Additionally, Giaudrone and district staff are unaware of any current student- to-student harassment, intimidation or bullying of Izabel at school.”
The statement went on to say that rumor-mongering has hurt efforts of students and staff to heal from the trauma of the girl’s death and has unfairly besmirched the reputations of Giaudrone staff members.
“Here is what happened and what happened in response,” the statement reads. “When Giaudrone Principal Billy Harris became aware of and viewed a concerning social media video that week involving Izabel — a video not related to any other students — it was responsibly and professionally addressed. A Child Protective Services report was made and Izabel received counseling support at school.”
After her death, the district assembled a crisis-response team to counsel students and staff at the school, the statement said.
“The crisis response arranged for the Giaudrone community ... is one of the most extensive in recent memory,” according to the statement.
The district also is cooperating in a police investigation into the girl’s death, the district said.
The statement ends with this: “We urge our larger community to support our Giaudrone school family as it continues to grieve, cope and move towards healing from this heartbreaking event.”
Several hundred people gathered at the school Friday evening to remember the girl with songs, poems, prayers, flowers and stuffed animals. They also lighted candles and wrote messages to the girl on the sidewalks and walls.
“We miss you, Izzy,” one of the signs said.