Families protest Peekskill School Board meeting after 10-year-old student's death

The family of 10-year-old Gianlukas Illescas says he was bullied out of school and took his own life, and the district didn't do enough to stop it. 

News 12 Staff

Jun 7, 2023, 2:24 AM

Updated 354 days ago

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Dozens of angry families protested Tuesday at the Peekskill School Board meeting after a student's death. 
The family of 10-year-old Gianlukas Illescas says he was bullied out of school and took his own life, and the district didn't do enough to stop it. 
The superintendent could barely get a word in as he moved on from the student's death to finish his address and discuss another topic. 
The group of protesters wore shirts with Gianlukas’ face on them. 
His grandmother says the Hillcrest Elementary Student killed himself nearly two weeks ago. His father, Christian Illescas, says it was the district's fault.
He says his son was crying and scared to go to school for the last six months because of bullies. 
Illescas says his son asked teachers for help and he asked for help from school social workers and administration numerous times. 
"They say they can't help me because they're too busy,” Illescas says. 
Several families say their kids have also been bullied over generations, without enough response from the district. 
Before moving to the topic of prom, Superintendent David Mauricio asked for a moment of silence, telling the crowd the district is here to listen and grow. 
In an earlier statement, Mauricio said the district is investigating to "...ensure allegations of misconduct are responded to properly and in a timely manner." 
But for many, it isn't enough, including Illescas' family.
Gianlukas' father is calling for some staff members to be fired because of what he deems is their negligence. He also wants someone independent of the district available to help kids. 
The city released a statement that said in part, "On behalf of the City of Peekskill, I want to express our condolences on the recent passing of a Hillcrest Elementary School student. Our hearts and prayers are with the family. Our Police Department is still actively investigating this matter and will share information once the findings are complete."
Peekskill police say it has not been determined that Illescas died by suicide. In a statement, Peekskill Police Chief Leo Dylewski says, in part,  “This tragic event is still actively being investigated, and no definitive conclusions have been made. Please continue to support the Illescas family during this difficult time.”


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