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District sends counselors to Palmdale school after teen suicide

April 16, 2013|By Joseph Serna
  • School Principal Rob Garza holds a note given to him by a classmate of Nigel Hardy. Many students said they want to memorialize their 13-year-old friend, who died in an apparent suicide.
School Principal Rob Garza holds a note given to him by a classmate of Nigel… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Grief and crisis counselors have been sent to Hillview Middle School in Palmdale after a 13-year-old student apparently committed suicide in nearby Kern County.

Nigel Hardy shot himself in Rosamond on Monday evening in an apparent suicide after his father reported him despondent, missing and possibly armed with a handgun, officials said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said Nigel was despondent over an incident at his school that led to his suspension.

Westside Union School District Supt. Regina Rossall declined to discuss details of Nigel's suspension, citing student privacy laws.

“From everything I knew, he was working hard to be a successful student,” Rossall said.

Nigel's father reported him missing Monday morning and said his handgun was gone too. Hillview Middle School was placed on alert as a precaution.

Rossall said she was aware students were reporting that Nigel got in a fight defending himself from bullying and that’s why he was suspended.

“I don’t think the students have all the correct information,” she said. “We don’t suspend kids for no reason.”

Rossall said the district’s school principals decide whether students should be suspended and then only if other corrective measures have been exhausted or administrators believe that there’s a significant safety risk to other students.

“We would not suspend ... unless something had occurred and steps had been taken in the past to correct it,” she said. “Suspensions are not supposed to be for first-time situations.”

Rossall said the school is not investigating if Nigel was the victim of bullying. Sheriff's Department officials also said they are not investigating whether Nigel was bullied before Monday's apparent suicide.

The district has sent grief and crisis counselors to Hillview for employees and students. The district has not been in contact with the family, Rossall said.

“We are extremely heartbroken for the family and send our condolences and sympathies,” she said.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

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