TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — A Taylorsville teenager who committed suicide outside Bennion Junior High school last week will be laid to rest Tuesday.
During an emotional press conference Sunday, David Phan’s family said he was bullied and more needs to be done to protect students.
“David was an outstanding son but he shielded his parents from horror and the negative experiences he was facing at Bennion Junior High,” said Thanh Tung Than Trong, David’s cousin.
Trong told news reporters the family had no idea David was bullied prior to his death last week.
“The last few days have been an absolute living nightmare to learn that he was bullied in school where he was supposed to be in a safe learning environment,” said Trong.
On social media sites, parents have taken the Granite School District to task, saying more could have been done to prevent Phan’s death. Granite officials say the right tools are in place and Phan’s family knew the teenager was dealing with numerous personal issues. The 9th grader hadn’t reported bullying incidents in two years but was in regular communication with a school counselor after she declared him an “at risk” student more than a year ago.
Granite School District Spokesman Ben Horsley told FOX 13 News that David’s family was aware that he was considered and at-risk student.
“Very much so,” Horsley said. “There’s a couple factors here with this student, reasons why counseling staff reached out to him and there was communication with the family.”
The day Phan took his life, he was sent home from school early after meeting with his mother and the principal. District officials say that meeting was not in regards to bullying and gave FOX 13 a ‘no comment’ when asked if Phan was being disciplined.
Despite numerous students saying Phan was bullied, granite officials say, four days after the 14 year-old’s death, no one has come forward identifying anyone.
“It was even reported that the crossing guard who works for UPD that she thought he was bullied. Once again, she was expressing her opinion but she had no information with specifics so we’re really struggling,” said Horsley.
“We would like to meet with school administrators this week to address issues we have with conflicting statements released by the school and district,” said Trong.
“With respect to this particular request, we’re certainly willing to talk to the family and address those concerns. Our staff already receives a number of legally required training and in addition to that and with this particular student a number of outreach was made to him,” said Horsley.
On social media sites, parents say this story spotlights that students don’t feel comfortable reporting bullying. Granite officials continue to stress that students can anonymously phone or text bullying complaints. Click here for more information.