YUCAIPA (CBSLA) — Rosalie Avila’s parents broke down in tears as they spoke about their young daughter. The 13-year-old hung herself in her bedroom last month. Her father says bullying is to blame.
On Monday the parents announced they intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Yucaipa-Calimesa School District.
“She was a big part of my life,” her father Freddie Avila said. “They told Rosalie and they told my daughter Laylanie and they told my daughter Angelina, what did you do? You had to have done something to deserve to make these kids do this to you.”
The parents stood outside the Yucaipa-Calimesa school district alongside, family, friends and their lawyer – calling for change within the district. Brian Claypool, the Avila’s lawyer, says the school district knew she was being bullied for months and didn’t do anything to protect her. He says Rosalie left a final note before taking her own life. In the note she asked her parents not to show her picture at her own funeral.
“The fact that this little girl would be so verbally abused at a school to a point where she writes a suicide note to her parents saying she doesn’t even feel worthy of a picture at her funeral speaks volumes,” Claypool said.
A church service was held Monday night and CBS2’s Tina Patel talked to Rosalie’s family about the changes they’re trying to make, so no family feels the pain they do.
“We so disappointed and angry at how the school has handled things ya know, with the kids.” Rosalie’s father said. “The way it happened to her, the way it happened to so many other kids…now is the time to act, now.”
It wasn’t just friends and family coming together to remember Rosalie. Many of the people mourning her loss are strangers, touched by the girl’s story.
“For people to come out who don’t even know us, to reach out, that shows a lot of love,” Rosalie’s father said.
The Yucaipa-Calimesa School District says their teachers and students are also mourning the loss of Rosalie, they released a statement that says in part: “We strive every day to be a safe, supportive, and engaging learning environment. We will continue to raise awareness and work with students and the community to support our children.”
Rosalie’s mother says she will never stop fighting for justice for her daughter.
“I brought her into this life and all I can think is someone ripping her from my arms, just taking her, that’s how I feel, like they took her from me,” Charlene Avila said. “We’re gonna make a difference in her name.”
Avila’s attorney says they are also trying to get legislation written that would require schools to keep written reports whenever bullying claims are made, to hold them accountable if the problem continues.