Suicide victim’s family meets with school district officials

Posted at 9:45 PM, Dec 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-19 00:03:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- The family of 14-year-old David Phan, who fatally shot himself in front of classmates last month, met with officials from the Granite School District on Tuesday.

The meeting, which was held at the Utah State Capitol, was also attended by a representative from the Utah Pride Center and a Vietnamese community activist.

Family spokesman Steven Ha said the Phans left the meeting confused about what the school district knew about their son before his November 29 suicide.

Ha confirmed comments made by the Phan family earlier this week that David came out as gay last year and his family supported him.

The Phans say they didn't know David was bullied and the school district never communicated with them. But Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said earlier this month that David's family was aware David was dealing with multiple personal issues.

"There's a couple factors here with respect to this individual student and reasons why counseling staff was very conscientious of him and reaching out to him. And there was communication with the family," Horsley said in a December 3 interview.

In a letter to Granite School District Superintendent Martin Bates, American Civil Liberties Union of Utah Legal Director John Mejia said "Granite School District officials, and particularly District Spokesman Ben Horsely [sic], have been extremely inappropriate in their public statements about David and his family."

The letter goes on to say "Mr. Horsely [sic] has released confidential and protected information about David in violation of federal and state law" and "this pattern of wrongful behavior appears to be crafted to deflect questions about any potential responsibility from the District and to try to cast blame and suspicion on David and his family."

Bates did not release a statement following the meeting, but the Phan family was reportedly very happy talking to him.

Ha said the District could have been more compassionate in its message of condolence to the Phan family and the rest of the Vietnamese community.

It is unclear whether or not the Phan family will sue the Granite School District.

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