Statement on Giaudrone MS by Tacoma Public Schools

6/5/2015 | TACOMA, Washington

The death of Izabel Laxamana on Saturday, May 30, has taken an emotional and traumatic toll on the staff and students at Giaudrone Middle School.
The crisis response arranged for the Giaudrone community – and other Tacoma schools where students and staff had a connection to Izabel – is one of the most extensive in recent memory. On Friday, May 29, a team of district administrators responded to the school to assist in the immediate aftermath.  On Monday, June 1, eleven district guidance counselors trained in crisis counseling were on hand at Giaudrone, as well as some of our close partners, including leadership from the Tacoma Police Department, six therapeutic counselors from Comprehensive Life Resources, five members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chaplaincy and two representatives from Trinity Church. That day, approximately 150 Giaudrone students met with counselors. Crisis response staff were also present at other schools to support students and staff connected to Izabel.
The Tacoma Police Department contacted those who might have knowledge of the after-school incident on Friday, May 29.  Staff and students from Giaudrone continue to cooperate with the investigation.   
Here is what we know and what happened in response. When Giaudrone Principal Billy Harris became aware of and viewed a concerning social media video that week involving Izabel – a video not related to any other students – it was responsibly and professionally addressed.  A Child Protective Services report was made and Izabel received counseling support at school.
Since Izabel’s death, a number of detrimental rumors are spreading that misrepresent the actions of the dedicated staff at Giaudrone. The perpetuation of these rumors creates additional trauma for students and staff members, and undermines the caring response to this tragic event.
The allegation that the principal or any staff members at Giaudrone shamed Izabel is false.  Many of these rumors center on whether Izabel was prevented from running for an ASB office. Izabel did not have parental permission to participate as a candidate – a necessary requirement.  No announcement was made regarding Izabel’s lack of participation in elections. 
Additionally, Giaudrone and district staff were unaware of any current student-to-student harassment, intimidation or bullying of Izabel at school.
Grieving is a process, and we will continue to support our community as we move forward from the initial shock of this tragedy.  Notably, the ASB student leaders at Giaudrone distinguished themselves by taking leadership, an example being establishing and maintaining a memorial site in Izabel’s honor.  They also planned healing activities.
We urge our larger community to support our Giaudrone school family as it continues to grieve, cope and move towards healing from this heartbreaking event.