HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Two years ago, Huntsville teen Nigel Shelby took his own life.
His family believes his death could have been prevented, which is why they’re now suing Huntsville City Schools.
Nigel’s mother Camika Shelby says her son was constantly bullied over his sexuality and race as a freshman at Huntsville High School
She says it was only after his death she learned he sought help from school leaders.
Nigel Shelby was only 15 years old when he took his own life back in 2019.
Attorney Ben Crump says school employees were aware of the bullying, did nothing and one school employee even made it worse.
“She told him when he talked about him being bullied by the other students for being gay, she said being gay is a choice, as if the problems that you’re having with the other students is your fault,” said Crump.
“She told him to make him feel better, he could dance to Black people music. She turned on music in her office in the presence of other children and mocked him. Which is an obvious act of racial discrimination,” said attorney Jasmine Rand.
Those allegations were made Tuesday against former Assistant Principal Jo Stafford.
We found out her last day at the school district was back in January 2020, almost nine months after Nigel committed suicide.
Nigel’s mother Camika Shelby and his father Patrick Cruz also spoke out.
They say Nigel’s death could have been avoided, if school officials had stepped in.
“We reached out to see what was going on at his school and I was always told everything was fine and it wasn’t fine,” said Shelby.
“Schools have a responsibility and duty to children, that when they learn about this information they have a duty to protect them. They have a duty to report it to their parents and to seek help on their behalf,” said attorney Rand.
The attorneys claim school officials at Huntsville High School knew Nigel was suicidal and they say staff didn’t intervene.
We talked with a school spokesperson to get their side of the story.
“Bullying is something we don’t tolerate as a school district. As a school district, a part of our core values are to create an environment that’s equitable and inclusive for everybody. That’s not just for some students that’s for all students. If any student is experiencing bullying, speak with a trusted adult at your school,” said chief communications officer Craig Williams.
School officials say they cannot speak about the specific accusations made in the lawsuit.
School officials released a statement and it mentions the high school has a strong Gay Straight Alliance in place to support LGBTQ+ students, as well as mental health counselors.