The school district where student Jonathan Lewis was ‘beaten to death’ by a mob of teens has faced a slew of lawsuits and allegations claiming it has ignored or covered up bullying – with locals telling DailyMail.com the issue is ‘out of control.’
Clark County School District has been hit with at least four lawsuits in recent years claiming it failed its legal duty to investigate and report bullying incidents, alongside disturbing claims from the district’s own police department that it has directly suppressed allegations from children and parents.
This year alone, the district has faced two lawsuits alleging it failed to investigate serious allegations from students, including those levied at former teacher and convicted child abuser Jonathan Cronin.
In another complaint, a former teacher claimed she and her child were intimidated into halting their bullying allegations. A local resident also branded the CCSD leadership ‘mob-like’ to DailyMail.com.
The issue has left residents furious following the harrowing fatal beating of Lewis, 17, this month, as they say it is only the tip of the iceberg after years of complaints about CCSD’s lack of action.
Lewis’ death has also reminded residents of the CCSD’s reaction to the 2013 suicide of Haillee Lamberth, 13, when it sparked outrage by blaming her death on the child instead of the bullying she endured at school.
In a statement to DailyMail.com the CCSD dubbed the incidents ‘completely unrelated.’
Jonathan Lewis, 17, was allegedly beaten to death on November 1 by a gang of bullies. On Tuesday, eight accused members were charged with his murder
The teenager’s father, Jonathan Lewis Sr, claimed that the bullies who allegedly killed his son have been involved in a similarly violent incident the week before, and it was ‘not a one off’
Lewis’ grieving father claimed to the Review Journal the gang who beat his son were involved in another violent incident the week before without punishment, saying: ‘This is not a one-off, no. We know that there was another incident the Tuesday before that with these exact kids.’
Eight students have been arrested in connection to the deadly attack.
Dontral Beaver, 16, Gianni Robinson, 17, Damien Hernandez, 17, and Treavion Randolph, 16, were all charged with murder and appeared in a Las Vegas court last week.
Four other teens have been charged, but not named, as their cases remain in juvenile court.
The judge ordered the defendants to continue to be held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.
They are set to appear in court again on Tuesday.
Daniel Martinez, public defender representing Randolph, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the expects his client to plead not guilty on Tuesday.
Lt. Jason Johansson of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said all the people involved were students of Rancho High School.
Treavion Randolph (left), 16, Damien Hernandez, 17, Gianni Robinson, 17, and Dontral Beaver (right), 16, made their first appearance as adults in court Friday morning
Lt. Jason Johansson of Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said all the people involved were students of Rancho High School
Locals told DailyMail.com there is a systematic failure from inside the district to deal with bullying early, allowing it to become a widespread problem fueled by ‘fear and anxiety.’
Claims that a lack of positive action to stop bullying escalating into such incidents as Lewis’ fatal beating this month has seen some furious Nevada residents recall the CCSD’s response to Lamberth’s 2013 suicide.
The district sparked fury by equating her actions with ‘murder’ to pass the blame away from the bullying she endured at school, before seeking to release Lamberth’s suicide note against her family’s wishes, to support claims she was already planning to kill herself.
Lamberth’s parents Jason and Jennifer Lambeth sued the school district in a wrongful death lawsuit the following year, where they claimed the school’s failure to tell them about her bullying stopped them from preventing the tragedy.
The 13-year-old’s suicide note appeared to directly call out the school where she suffered harrowing abuse, saying: ‘I only ask that you tell my school I killed myself.’
Hailee Lamberth tragically committed suicide in 2013, leading her parents to accuse the CCSD of failing to tell them about the bullying she was facing and keeping it under wraps
The CCSD’s statement to DailyMail.com
District leadership and School Police are working with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) and the District Attorney’s office so those involved in the November 1 incident are held accountable for their actions. LVMPD is the lead investigative agency.
CCSD does not tolerate violence or threats to students or their safety. We all must come together as a community to address the needs of our students so disagreements are resolved through dialogue rather than violence.
The completely unrelated incidents linked in your inquiry span a number of years and superintendents and have previously been addressed by the District.
In a federal lawsuit launched in 2020, the Clark County School District (CCSD) was accused of not only failing its legal duty to investigate a bullying incident in one of its schools, but also retaliating and intimidating the victim into silence.
Former teacher Michelle Cox filed a federal complaint claiming that when she found out her child was being bullied and reported it to the district they ignored it and never filed a report,’ according to 8NewsNow.
She claimed the bullying was so severe that one student told her child: ‘When I am older, I’m going to murder somebody, somebody like you.’
The lawsuit alleges that the school’s lead faculty intimidated the child into not making further complaints, with Cox’s attorney Jason Bach saying: ‘She was retaliated against and accused of wrongdoing for essentially raising her voice and questioning the principal.’
The status of her lawsuit is not clear.
The lawsuit is just one of a number of similar cases and allegations, which has led Nevada State Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro to call for CCSD superintendent Dr Jesus Jara to resign.
‘Dr. Jara’s administration is a failure, and under any reasonable circumstances, he should resign or be terminated,’ she said, a week after State House Speaker Steve Yeager also called for his resignation as the community ‘no longer trusts’ him.
According to schools statistics tracker Niche, students in the district have a math proficiency rate of just 20 percent, and a reading proficiency rate of 38 percent.
After the bullying incident shocked the nation, officials urged parents to use Jonathan’s attack as an example to speak to their children about bullying and ‘not put your head in the sand’
The same year as Cox’s lawsuit in 2020, the district paid $1.8 million to settle two lawsuits alleging special needs students were abused by their teacher, Kasey Glass, with the faculty again accused of taking no action when it was reported, according to 3News.
In February 2023, the Clark County School District Police Department directly accused the school district of trying to cover up separate allegations against another special education teacher, according to 8NewsNow.
While that teacher who faced accusations was never charged with any wrongdoing, the school district’s police department said their investigation found suspicious ‘failings’ from administrators.
In particular, the district was required by law to file an ‘averse restraint form’ after a teacher was accused of using physical force against a child, however police found no report was ever filed by CCSD, according to KLAS Las Vegas.
CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara (pictured) is facing calls for his resignation over the district’s issues
Importantly, many states allocate school district funding based on daily attendance rates. This means that in districts that handle bullying poorly, leading to more absences, they may end up receiving less funding that would go to improving conditions at the school.
The district faced similar allegations of systematic cover-ups in an April 2023 federal lawsuit claiming convicted child sex offender and former teacher Jonathan Cronin targeted students, while the CCSD allegedly failed to take the allegations seriously.
It was claimed that the CCSD failed to take students’ allegations against the teacher seriously, failed to investigate the claims, and didn’t discipline Cronin to deter him from committing further acts of sexual abuse.
Cronin was given a suspended sentence up to 96 months in May 2020.
Convicted child abuser Jonathan Cronin was the subject of a 2023 lawsuit against CCSD claiming he targeted students without investigation
Many have reacted with fury at seeing the moments that allegedly led to Lewis’ death, with the beating at the hands of the mob captured on sickening footage.
Eight students at the high school are now facing murder charges. However, the two week aftermath of Lewis’ death has seen numerous Clark County residents and former students call out the district for its bullying issues.
One parent who had two children bullied by their teachers at two separate schools in the district, who asked to remain anonymous, told DailyMail.com that the district’s approach to suppressing bullying claims is ‘mob-like.’
‘Every school (in the district) is worse than the next,’ she said, noting she would often make visits to schools for her job. ‘It’s terrifying.’
She said when her daughter was targeted by a teacher, he would stand her in front of the class and taunt her as she struggled through math equations. After complaining, she claims that ‘nobody did anything about it.’
When the mom threatened to sue and told the school they would ‘never be rid’ of her sitting in class and observing the teacher until her daughter graduates, the school offered to graduate her daughter a year early for a $700 fee.
Her autistic younger son, who also suffered from learning disabilities, would allegedly be tormented by teachers who would ‘rip up his papers in front of him’, and humiliate him.
Like others, she claimed that the reports were never filed over any incidents, and when she took it to Superintendent Jara, ‘that’s where everything just brushed under the rug.’
She added that Rancho High School, where Lewis was ‘beaten to death’ this month, is ‘one of the worst schools’ in the area where ‘beatings and violence are daily’ in the area of the city.
Former Las Vegas City Council candidate Richard Carreon, 43, who has lived in the district since 2014 and campaigns for education reforms, told DailyMail.com that CCSD has a ‘basic disregard for the necessities inherent to education.’
Clark County resident and former Las Vegas City Council candidate Richard Carreon (pictured) told DailyMail.com that the CCSD has been struggling with bullying for years, which he said stems from a ‘basic disregard for the necessities inherent to education’
Carreon said issues at the school district manifest themselves in not only rampant bullying, but declining standards and declining campus maintenance. Pictured is Rancho High School, where Jonathan Lewis attended and was attacked just blocks away
Carreon, a US Army veteran said the issue stems from the way that ‘bullying has been under-prioritized’, which he argued has manifested in a number of ways including a disregard for the upkeep of the schools themselves.
‘It’s incompetence… the (CCSD leadership) lack the professional discipline of basic management,’ he said.
‘The district itself has an inability to take care of its campuses… they are being kept at a level where its reduced functionality,’ in the schools, which he contended leads to the issues CCSD has faced through poor student and teacher morale.
‘Because of the environment that’s allowed to persist, that the leaders at the district level do not care, so with that comes this idea that since they are not cared about, they can do whatever they want because they won’t be held accountable.’
After Lewis’ fatal beating shocked the Nevada community, Carreon said the area is currently filled with ‘a lot of fear and anxiety’ over what could come next.