Parents sue Carmel High School and others, claiming actions of employees led to son’s suicide

Patrick McCalley (Photo provided by family via the Indy Star)

CARMEL, Ind. – The parents of a 17-year-old boy who took his own life in 2016 are suing Carmel High School, claiming the actions of school employees led to their son’s death.

On the day Patrick McCalley died, his parents Chris and Marilyn tell the Indy Star that the teen was placed on in-school suspension because of a “racially insensitive” Snapchat that he sent that trivialized lynching.

The McCalleys say Patrick was called to the assistant principal’s office around noon and later signed an affidavit the school gave him, apologizing and calling the Snapchat a “stupid and ignorant joke.” He killed himself shortly after being escorted from the school.

Patrick’s parents claim he was coerced into signing the affidavit and told he would be suspended, according to the complaint. They also say the school didn’t attempt to call them or inform their son of his Miranda rights before beginning to “interrogate” him.

In the lawsuit, Patrick’s parents claim the acts of the defendants caused their son “to suffer extreme, intolerable and excessive psychological and emotional distress, so as to render him so bereft of reason as to cause him to take his own life.”

Along with the school, the McCalleys are suing the city, Carmel Clay Schools, assistant principal Toby Steele, school resource officer Phil Hobson and former district superintendent Nicholas Wahl.

According to the suit filed on Nov. 1, the defendants are being charged with eight counts, including intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Patrick’s parents are suing for damages including for the “loss of love and companionship of Patrick” and his medical, burial and legal expenses.

The school district responded to the McCalleys’ allegations in a statement sent to the Indy Star:

“The facts we have gathered in reviewing this tragedy are very different from what is being portrayed in the lawsuit. We will follow the legal process to appropriately respond to these accusations. We are fortunate to have tremendous leadership focused on providing a safe learning environment for all of our students at Carmel Clay Schools.”

An initial pretrial conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Jan. 28.

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