The family of 17-year-old Kenneth Suttner, who committed suicide last December because of alleged bullying at school and work in Howard County, is detailing the kind of bullying they said he endured for more than 15 years.
Howard County Coroner Frank Flaspohler voluntarily agreed Wednesday to release part of the transcript of his January 2017 inquest into the death of Suttner to the Glasgow School District. The inquest found that the district was negligent in handling bullying at the school and Suttner’s manager at a Fayette Dairy Queen, Harley Branham, was charged with involuntary manslaughter as a result of the inquest.
The district asked for the transcript shortly after the inquest, but Flaspohler explained to them that the record was closed due to the involuntary manslaughter charge filed against Branham. The district filed a lawsuit in March to obtain it because it said it wanted a chance to defend itself because district officials were not allowed to be present at the inquest and didn’t know the extent of what happened or what was said.
Its desire for the transcript increased in June, when Suttner’s family filed a complaint on his behalf to the Missouri Commission on Human Rights.
On Sept. 1, the district attached the complaint to a motion in opposition of Flaspohler’s request to continue a September hearing on its motion for partial summary judgment. The district’s attorney said it needed the transcript to “properly defend itself from allegations” in the complaint.
“[The] plaintiff is currently defending itself from the attached charge of discrimination filed on behalf of Kenneth Suttner…” the school district’s attorney Tom Mickes said in the motion. “For over eight weeks, [the] plaintiff’s ability to defend itself in that matter has been prejudiced by the defendant’s failure to turn over the transcript from a public hearing and the documents presented during that public hearing.”
The complaint of discrimination ABC17 News obtained lists complaints against the school district and the Dairy Queen in Fayette that was the scene of the alleged bullying by Branham.
The complaint alleged that the discrimination, bullying and mistreatment of Suttner in the school system and at work began in Aug. 2002 and lasted until his death on Dec. 21, 2016.
First, Suttner’s family said he was bullied throughout “his entire school life attending Glasgow Public School.” The family said Suttner was “disabled and developmentally delayed due to being born three months premature.” They said he had a speech impairment, walked with a gait and attending physical therapy for years but couldn’t overcome it.
They said he was “made fun of and called names for everything about him.” His mother said that the administration was apparently aware of the bullying after “many visits with teachers and administration” over the years but nothing was ever done.
The family also breaks down the alleged bullying at the Dairy Queen. They said he was “harassed and humiliated” by Branham who apparently made him clean the floor on his stomach, called him named and “threw food at him if he didn’t make it to her standards.”