BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A lawsuit filed Tuesday in state supreme court alleges that Buffalo Public Schools had advance knowledge of threats of violence on the day of the McKinley High School attack last February, but failed to take actions to prevent it.
In fact, the suit claims, administrators at McKinley had a meeting with the victim’s cousin about the threats less than an hour before the attack.
On Feb. 9, a 14-year-old student was stabbed 10 times and a security guard was shot in the leg during an altercation shortly after dismissal, police said. Two 17-year-olds were later charged with attempted murder. The school did not fully return to in-person learning until March.
Attorney John Elmore filed the civil lawsuit and said this attack could have been prevented.
“He almost died. We believe this incident could’ve been prevented by the school district,” Elmore told News 4.
The lawsuit, filed by the mother of the 14-year-old victim, named both Buffalo Public Schools and former Superintendent Kriner Cash as defendants. It alleged the district had a “pattern of inadequately addressing the potential for violence” at McKinley, which came to a head on Feb. 9.
The suit alleges the district “had an opportunity to review text messages and social media messages threatening acts of violence” on the day of the attack. It claims both acting principal Karen Kibler and vice principal Solomon Jackson were aware threats had been made against the victim’s cousin and met with him that afternoon.
“Our client’s older cousin met with the vice principal and the principal about these threats that there were people that were going to beat them up,” Elmore continued.
“This meeting occurred around 3:19 PM on February 9, 2022. All students were allowed to return to their classes, and were dismissed from school without any security measures offered to them for their safe transportation home,” the lawsuit claims.
The suit further alleges that BPS and Cash were negligent in numerous ways: by failing to notify police and the parents of the victims that there was potential for violence; by failing to provide a safety plan or safe transportation home from school for the students; and by failing to prevent the attacker from having a knife on school grounds.
A spokesperson for BPS said the district would not comment on pending litigation.
“Our collective hearts hurt for the student that was injured as a result of the violence outside of McKinley High School on February 9, 2022, and we wish him well as he continues his recovery,” a BPS spokesman said in a prepared statement.
The attorney for the family, John Elmore, joined News 4 at 5:30 to discuss the lawsuit. He said the mother pulled her son out of the Buffalo Public Schools system because she lost faith that her child could be protected there. You can watch the full interview below.
Elmore said the victim’s injuries will affect him the rest of his life. He’s no longer able to play football, he said, and will have to repeat some classes. He also had to attend summer school to catch up on school work he missed while recovering from his injuries, which included 21 days in the hospital, according to Elmore. The student is also having difficulty sleeping at night and is still dealing with pain from his injuries, which includes a stab wound to his kidney and a punctured lung.
“He’s emotionally disturbed. He’s got permanent scarring to his skin. There’s been permanent damage to his organs,” Elmore said. “He’s improving, and he’s a fighter.”
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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.