LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) — A million-dollar notice of claim was filed last week against Three Village Central School District by Ralph De Lustro, a distraught father of a teen who was allegedly choked unconscious by another student on March 8.
“This is horrible, I am angry and upset that my son had to go through this,” De Lustro, a 48-year-old dietary director, told PIX11 News on Tuesday. “My family has not received any apology or any acknowledgment from the staff who failed to protect my son.”
In documents provided by Kenneth Mollins, the lawyer representing the family, it states the middle schooler made teachers aware on multiple occasions that he felt unsafe. He also stated that he made the administration aware that he was made to feel unsafe and feared for his life.
From the beginning of the year until March of 2023, De Lustro said his son was bullied relentlessly day in and day out. The boy was attacked with a hockey stick in gym class, according to De Lustro. He was also pushed and verbally threatened on multiple occasions, according to the notice of claim.
The young boy said the dean of the school was aware of the bullying. He said the dean told them he did not want them to fight and they both agreed.
“After we were called into the dean, the two weeks after I felt even more uncomfortable,” the eighth-grader told PIX11 News during an interview with his father on Tuesday. “He kept saying he wanted to fight and kill me. I told him I did not want to fight … I did everything I had to do to avoid him, I was better off fighting back.”
Then on March 8, 2023, that’s when things took a turn for the worse, he was choked out in front of his peers in gym class where the teacher allegedly turned a blind eye, according to the notice of claim.
Now, De Lustro is seeking $1 million on behalf of his son, who he said suffered personal injuries, emotional harm, and humiliation.
“My client was told by doctors and nurses he is lucky to be alive,” Kenneth Mollins said of the boy.
Mollins said the school did not call authorities and it was the nurse who called 911 after the boy was choked unconscious.
“Even other students begged the boy to let my client go,” Mollins said.
The family is giving the school district 90 days to respond to the claim, which is required by law.
As for the other student, he was charged with felony strangulation, the attorney said, and the family is waiting for an order of protection. He is still enrolled in the same school.
On the same day of the attack, while De Lustro’s son was recovering in the hospital, the boy received a Snapchat message allegedly from his attacker, apologizing and asking the family not to sue.
PIX11 News reached out to The Three Village Central School District and were told the district does not comment on pending litigation.