Kentucky school sued in bullying suicide

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. — Sheila Patton was making chocolate chip cookies for her 13-year-old son to take to school on a cold morning last November when she heard a loud thud in his bedroom.

Alarmed, she rushed with her husband, Lawrence, to check on Stephen, their only child. They found him lying awkwardly and unresponsive on the floor next to a heater in his room.

"There was so much blood," Sheila Patton said softly Friday. "We thought he had fallen and hit his head on the heater."

What the couple didn't see was the 9 millimeter handgun next to his body.

Now, the Pattons say that Stephen's school shares responsibility for his suicide. They have filed a lawsuit against officials at Allen Central Middle School, where Stephen was an eighth-grader, saying that the school allowed him to be bullied to the point that he killed himself.

In the months after Stephen's death, the Pattons say his classmates and other parents have approached them with tales of harassment and severe bullying that Stephen endured daily at the Floyd County school, which has a little more than 300 students.

Sheila and Lawrence say they are outraged that no one from the school informed them of the situation.

"There was no excuse why we weren't told this was going on with our child," Sheila Patton said. "When we send our children to school, we believe they are going to be taken care of. ... If they allowed this to happen to my child, it could happen to others."

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