GENEVA, Ohio – A sophomore at an Ohio high school took his own life, and some people are blaming the actions of school officials for his death.
Hank Sigel says his friend Hayden Long committed suicide after he was “verbally attacked” by school officials and a police officer at their homecoming dance.
In an open letter, Sigel says that he, Long, and some other students were accused of smelling like marijuana and questioned by police without their parents.
Sigel said that Long was told by school administrators, “that he had ruined his life.”
He said the students were told, “they would fail their classes, had ruined their academic careers, and had made the biggest mistake of their life.”
Sigel’s open letter about the recent tragedy and the way he and his friends were treated by school officials is gaining attention on social media.
Sigel’s letter says:
Today our family of Geneva has lost a loved one. Hayden was a great student in class, a determined athlete, and a wonderful friendly human being. He was a faithful friend and someone who everyone enjoyed to be around. We must never forget the type of person he was and character he possessed. We must remember that everyone’s lives matter. Even a joyful, loving kid can be in a dark mental place.
I am a student from Geneva high school and was involved with the same disciplinary issue as Hayden at homecoming. A group of kids were accused of smelling of marijuana at the dance. This group of kids was made up of six honor student, who were all involved in sports, and great members of our community. What followed was a two week suspension from school, possible criminal charges, suspension from all sports, and a loss of driver’s license.
I was exposed to some things that I would never want to see again when I was in the room where we were taken. We were questioned without our parents, and they forcibly took my keys and searched my car. When I stood up for myself and asked if they had the right to do this, I was told, “It’s cute you think you know your rights.”
Hayden was looked in the eyes and verbally attacked by Mr. Wetherholt, Mr. Markijohn, and Officer Gonzales. He was directly told that he had ruined his life by our school administrators. The students were told they would fail their classes, had ruined their academic careers, and had made the biggest mistake of their life. A minor issue was turned into a life changing catastrophe by these negligent and vicious men. As a family we know that our lives matter, but in my opinion they do not to Mr. Wetherholt, Mr. Markijohn, and Officer Gonzales. These are repeat offenders, and have been antagonizing and trying to bring our students down for years. We must open our eyes. These men must not be part of our family any longer.
Sigel and his mother want the school to be held responsible for Long’s suicide.
“The administration needs to accept responsibility for this tragedy. Impressionable teenagers should not be treated like harden criminals,” Sigel’s mother Heather wrote.
The school responded to the recent claims by releasing a statement from Long’s family.
The Long family has asked that the district post this message to help eliminate any negative publicity. Emily and Michael in no way blame the school system and are offended that some others are speaking for them.
The family of Hayden Long would like to thank the support of the Geneva community, especially the Geneva Area City Schools for their support during this difficult time. We ask that you respect our privacy as we spend quality time with our close family and friends.
Sincerely, Emily Long
The school says counseling has been provided for students grieving the loss of their classmate.