Italian parents are suing the exclusive boarding school in New York where their son, 17, committed himself in February, alleging that the institution kept him in “solitary confinement” as they waited for him to be expelled for failing on a math test.
Claudio Mandia, 17, died after being expelled from and placed in solitary confinement by administrators at EF Academy, a private high school in Thornwood, about 35 miles north of New York City, according to a lawsuit filed last Friday in Westchester County Supreme Court by his father, Mauro Mandia, and other family members.
Additionally, the complaint claims that the school “frequently irresponsibly disregards the psychological requirements of its students,” adding that Claudio’s classmate had attempted suicide and that Claudio had observed it more than a year prior to his own passing.
The school, its parent company, four school officials named by name, as well as 20 other people who are still unnamed and who the complaint claims “contributed to the harm set forth,” are all named defendants in the lawsuit, which also includes claims of wrongful death, negligence, false imprisonment, and emotional distress. In light of Claudio’s passing, it requests both retribution for the school and compensation for the Mandia family.
The school community at EF Academy is still “deeply grieved by the unfortunate demise of Claudio Mandia, and our hearts go out to his family, friends, and our entire school community during this incredibly trying time,” a spokeswoman for the institution said in a statement.
The statement went on to say that Mandia was not “placed in solitary confinement” and that the filing contained “many erroneous assertions.”
“The narrative that is shared in the legal filing is not accurate or based on fact,” the statement said. “We are confident that the legal process will allow us to provide and prove a fact-based legal case recounting what actually transpired.”
Mandia and Elisabetta Benesatto, Claudio’s parents, chose to send their son to the prestigious boarding school more than 4,000 miles from their home in Battipaglia, Italy, because it promised a demanding academic schedule that would enable Claudio to realise his dream of attending a prestigious Italian university, according to the complaint. Full-time boarders pay tuition of more than $66,000 annually at the school.
The university also has campuses in Pasadena, California, and Oxford, England.
Claudio’s parents enrolled him in the two-year International Baccalaureate Program at the EF Academy in New York in the spring of 2020, after he had finished his first two years of high school in Italy. This programme offers a “globally recognised elite diploma,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Claudio did well in his first year at the school and quotes his previous teachers who described him as “a very good math student,” “a tremendous delight to have in class,” and “respectful and honest.”
But the lawsuit describes how difficult his second and last year at the institution was.