A California school superintendent has been fired just days after his district was ordered to pay $27 million to the family of a boy beaten to death by bullies.
The Moreno Valley Unified School District Board of Education voted to appoint Dr. Martinrex Kedziora after a three-hour meeting behind closed doors.
Kedziora had served as the district’s superintendent since 2017 and was ousted in a 3-2 vote just a week after the district paid out $27 million to Diego Stolz’s family.
Stolz, 13, died in September 2019, days after he was hit in the head from behind by a 14-year-old boy and then slammed his head into a pillar at Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, California.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Stolz’s family was settled last Wednesday by the Moreno Valley Unified School District for $27 million and is the largest bullying payout in U.S. history.
Moreno Valley Unified School District Superintendent Martinrex Kedziora, pictured here, has been fired from his role at the school
Diego Stolz was just 13 years old when he was beaten to death by bullies at his high school in California
The wrongful death suit was filed against the Moreno Valley Unified School District on behalf of Stolz’s legal guardians, his aunt and uncle, Juana and Felipe Salcedo.
After Stolz’s death in 2019, Kedziora vowed that change would come to the district to prevent similar tragic situations.
At the time, he said, “We need to be more thoughtful, responsive and empathetic.
“If you meet a parent and he or she says, ‘I don’t want my child to be the next Diego,’ you can say, ‘I agree,’ but our actions speak louder than our words.”
Harrowing footage showed him being pushed against a concrete pillar and hitting his head before the bullies continued to attack him while he was unconscious.
The two boys then continued to beat Stolz while he was on the ground. He never regained consciousness and died nine days later from brain injuries.
His tragic tormentors, who have never been identified, subsequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter but walked away without jail time.
In 2020, the boys entered the equivalent of guilty pleas in juvenile court to charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with force likely to cause great bodily harm.
In 2021, a Riverside County Superior Court judge ruled that the teenage boys would not remain behind bars but would instead undergo anger management therapy as a condition of their probation.
After 47 days in juvenile detention, the teens were released into the care of their parents.
At the sentencing, Juana Salcedo made an impact statement through a translator saying she believed school administrators failed Diego after she raised him not to fight back against bullies.
“It’s hard to put into words a lot of emotions and the pain in my heart,” she said.
‘I will continue to fight for my son. I wouldn’t have allowed my son to beat up anyone else.”
The 14-year-olds, whose names have not been identified, “confessed” to involuntary manslaughter. In the photo: Stolz during the attack
The Salcedo family (pictured here in 2019) was awarded the largest bullying settlement ever on Wednesday following a lawsuit against the Moreno Valley Unified School District
In a news release, the family’s attorney said, “The family will forever be heartbroken by Diego’s death, but they hope this case will bring about change in school districts across the country.”
‘Schools must realize that bullying can never be tolerated and that complaints of bullying and abuse must be taken seriously. Diego’s death could have been prevented if this school had simply prioritized an anti-bullying policy.
Neil Gehlaway, the attorney representing Diego’s family, also placed much of the blame for the child’s death on high school administrators.
“His death could have been completely prevented if his high school administrators had done their job,” he said.
‘The Thursday prior to the fatal attack, namely on Monday, Diego was attacked by one of the same bullies at school.’
Landmark Middle School in Moreno Valley, California, near Riverside, where the fatal schoolyard fight occurred in September 2019
Phone camera footage of the fatal incident shows Diego being punched, hitting his head on a concrete pillar and continuing to be beaten as he lays unconscious on the ground
He said the family reported the bullying to then-deputy principal Kamilah O’Connor, who assured them the boys would be suspended.
But the first day back at school after the attack, the two boys were not suspended and Diego was fatally attacked by one of them.
“She certainly made a promise to the family and didn’t keep it,” Gehlawat said.
The lawyer added that a complete breakdown in communication between school administrators led to the circumstances surrounding Diego’s death.
‘One of the assistant principals had information about Diego being bullied and abused, and she did not share that information with her fellow principals, the other vice principal and the principal of the school, and on the day Diego was fatally attacked , she wasn’t there. school that day,” he said.
The lawsuit that led to Wednesday’s massive settlement alleged that the Moreno Valley Unified School District failed to act after administrators learned Stolz was being bullied.
Six weeks after the incident that proved fatal, O’Connor and the school’s then-principal, Scott Walker, were replaced.
Scott Walker, seen here, was the school’s principal before being removed after the death
“It’s hard to put into words a lot of emotions and the pain in my heart,” said Diego’s aunt and guardian Juana Salcedo, who raised Diego after he was orphaned
As part of the settlement, Gehlaway said the school district agreed to additional training, as well as new protocols regarding how teachers and administrators respond to bullying.
Attorneys for the victim’s family called the dollar amount received “the largest harassment settlement in the United States.”
In September 2020, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2445, which was “inspired by Diego’s tragic death and clarified that legal guardians have the authority to sue in civil claims involving a minor whose death may be is the result of a wrongful or negligent act, but only if the child’s natural parents are deceased,” the press release said.
From childhood, Stolz was raised by his aunt and uncle after the death of his mother and father.