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    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    Lyme-Old Lyme High School student sues school officials after arrest for gun threat

    Old Lyme ― A federal court is taking up the case of a Lyme-Old Lyme high school student who said he was falsely accused and arrested for making a threatening comment about a school shooting.

    The charge was later dropped by prosecutors.

    The case, initiated in the state Superior Court by Jean Goldberg on behalf of her son Elias Goldberg, stems from a May 8 incident during which the student was accused of threatening gun violence during a school safety drill and then arrested for breach of peace.

    The case was lodged against the Region 18 Board of Education, Superintendent of Schools Ian Neviaser and Lyme-Old Lyme High School Principal James Wygonik. It was transferred Wednesday to the United States District Court for the State of Connecticut at the request of school officials.

    According to the lawsuit filed by attorney Eric J. Garofano, the comment was made by a different student and was misinterpreted by the teacher who heard it.

    The other student told Goldberg that bringing everyone together in one outdoor location for a school safety drill was “when something was likely to happen in terms of a school shooting,” the complaint states.

    The document alleged Wygonik and Neviaser were negligent because they coordinated Goldberg’s arrest with police without personally investigating the comment or speaking to the other student.

    The lawsuit states Goldberg’s breach of peace charge was dropped by prosecutors, but only after the humiliation of being escorted from a full cafeteria by school officials and two police officers. His resulting anxiety requires ongoing medical treatment, according to the complaint.

    The lawsuit states school officials were allowed to tell other students about the alleged threat made by Goldberg, which led to him being asked by fellow students if they were on his “hit list.”

    In addition to allegations of negligence and the infliction of emotional distress against school officials, Neviaser and Wygonik were accused of false arrest and malicious prosecution. The lawsuit said they targeted Goldberg based on his “family’s history of seeking to hold the Regional School District 18 accountable for its actions.”

    Court documents show the family in 2015 was successful in obtaining video footage of alleged bullying on a school bus after the district spent more than a year and half withholding the information based on student privacy concerns.

    Neviaser and Board of Education Chairman Jason Kemp declined to comment on the lawsuit while it is ongoing. Wygonik did not respond to a request for comment.

    e.regan@theday.com

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