By Talia Kaplan
Published November 01, 2019
Two administrators have been replaced at the Southern California middle school where a 13-year-old boy died after allegedly being assaulted by two other students, district officials confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.
At a school board meeting Tuesday, Moreno Valley Unified school officials announced the replacements for Landmark Middle School’s principal and assistant principal, according to a statement that district officials sent to Fox News.
The statement said the school board and superintendent “want to provide students with the best academic, social and emotional experience while they are in our schools. They understand that each school has unique needs, and want to better address those needs at each school.”
The announcement came just one day after the family of Diego Stolz filed a $100 million legal claim against the district, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported. The filing alleges that the boy died as a result of being bullied and asserts that the district "failed to take bullying complaints by Diego's family seriously and failed to enforce anti-bullying policies to protect its students."
When Fox News asked if the changes resulted from the violent incident at the middle school that led to Diego's death, a district spokeswoman said, “We wanted to bring new ideas and fresh perspective to the school community.”
Dave Ring, a lawyer representing the boy's family, told reporters Tuesday that three days before the Sept. 16 attack that cost the teen his life, his adult sister met with Landmark Middle School’s assistant principal to discuss the bullying he was undergoing.
The administrator reportedly assured Diego that the bullies would be suspended starting Monday, Sept. 16. However, the boy's alleged tormenters showed up to school that day. Hours later, two boys allegedly sucker-punched Diego. Video of the attack shared on social media showed his head hit a concrete pillar as he fell to the ground. The first teen then reportedly punched Diego a third time before running away.
The boy was taken to a hospital but was removed from life support nine days later.
Ring said the school “knew that Diego was targeted to be beat up” and was told by a teacher, Diego's adult sister and Diego himself days before he was attacked “and they allowed this to happen.”
According to the attorney, “Diego was physically accosted by these bullies” on the Thursday before the attack and had been bullied the entire year before as well. Ring said Diego's family had complained several times to the administration “and nothing was done.”
“I don’t believe the bullies were ever talked to," Ring said. "My information is that the assistant principal did absolutely nothing with that information — ever.”
“I don’t believe the bullies were ever talked to. My information is that the assistant principal did absolutely nothing with that information — ever.”
Ring said the death could have been prevented “if this school took bullying seriously.”
Landmark Middle School’s new principal Rafael Garcia started Wednesday, according to the statement sent to Fox News. Garcia was the district’s coordinator for child welfare and attendance before becoming the middle school’s principal. On Monday, the school's two new assistant principals will begin their new roles at the school.
FOX 11 reported that the district has denied all liability in Diego's death, saying that "the two boys who attacked and killed Diego are responsible for this death."
Earlier this month the two 13-year-old boys, who have not been publicly identified because they're minors, were each charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter.
Moreno Valley is about 64 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.