A Boone County Circuit Court judge Tuesday denied a motion to dismiss a wrongful death suit against the Howard County School District in the suicide of Kenneth Suttner.

“I am surprised and disappointed,” said Tom Mickes, an attorney for the school district, adding that the court did not provide a reason for its denial.

In the motion to dismiss, the defendants claimed the complaint was not filed within a necessary 180-day window and did not identify any individual administrators.

Angela Suttner, mother of Kenneth Suttner, filed the lawsuit in July, alleging that the school district and Glasgow High School administrators failed to adequately respond to reports that her son was being bullied before he took his life in December 2016.

The suit alleges that Kenneth Suttner was a victim of disability-based discrimination and “was repeatedly called derogatory names and put in difficult, abusive, harassing, and humiliating situations” by students and teachers. According to the suit, the school district was aware of the bullying but did not take action against perpetrators.

Mickes has claimed in the past that the school district never received any report of bullying from Kenneth Suttner or his family, according to previous Missourian reporting.

An inquest called to investigate Suttner’s death found that bullying at school and the Dairy Queen where he worked contributed to his death. His former manager at Dairy Queen, Harley Branham, was criminally charged in connection with his death and is scheduled for trial in July on aggravated stalking, two counts of third-degree assault and two counts of first-degree harassment with the purpose of causing emotional distress.

The lawsuit against the school district was transferred from state to federal jurisdiction in August and moved back to state court in October. In December, the case was moved from Howard County to Boone County.

Mickes said the district is preparing for trial and will begin taking depositions.

  • I'm currently on the graphics desk. I've also been an assistant city editor and a reporter on the community and education beats. You can reach me by email at oliviagarrett@mail.missouri.edu or on Twitter @_oliviagarrett.

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