A prestigious New Jersey boarding school has admitted that it did not do enough to protect a student who committed suicide on campus after vicious and unsubstantiated rumors about him spread.

Jack Reid, 17, went to Lawrenceville School in Mercer County, about five miles south of Princeton University, where tuition is a whopping $76,000 per year.

Reid committed suicide on April 30, 2022, after being subjected to relentless bullying over cruel rumors labeling him a rapist.

“The school acknowledges that bullying and unkind behavior, as well as actions taken or not taken by the school, most likely contributed to Jack’s death,” Lawrenceville officials said in a statement posted on the school’s website on Sunday.

The statement was included in a settlement reached between the boarding school and Reid’s parents, Elizabeth and Bill Reid.

“The only thing I’d love to change here is to get Jack back,” Reid’s father told the New York Times.

Reid started at the boarding school as a sophomore in the fall of 2020, befriending classmates and making the Dean’s List, according to his parents.

The following spring semester, however, a rumor that he was a rapist spread like wildfire throughout the student body.

Reid returned to the school in September 2021 and was elected president of the residential housing where he lived, despite the rumor.

However, his parents believe that the teen’s new role has only exacerbated the rumors and bullying.

Reid was repeatedly harassed in person and online by students, causing the unverified rumor to spread outside of school grounds, according to the outlet.

Reid and his classmates participated in a Secret Santa gift exchange during the holiday season, where he received a rape whistle and a book on how to make friends.

Bill Reid recalled his son asking him if the false accusations would “everything go away.”

According to the school, a classmate who had previously been disciplined for bullying Reid and was later found to be involved in spreading rumors about him was eventually expelled for an unrelated incident.

The unnamed student was left unsupervised while packing his belongings, and during a gathering with peers, he falsely claimed Reid was to blame for his expulsion.

Reid put a Bible in his gym shorts pocket the same night and left a note directing his parents to a Google Doc detailing his helplessness.

“He needed to get away from the humiliation he was feeling,” Reid’s father explained.

Reid’s mother stated that her son had been seeing a therapist before committing suicide, but they had never discussed suicidal thoughts.

Reid had approached school officials before his death to intervene in these false rumors, prompting the school to investigate the bullying and sexual assault, his parents revealed.

According to the outlet, the school discovered no evidence to support the rumors and allegations that Reid was a rapist, a fact that the boarding school refused to acknowledge in public or private.

Despite being aware of the ongoing bullying, the elite boarding school has only now admitted failure, one year after Reid’s death.

“There were steps that the School should have taken in hindsight but did not,” the school said in a statement.

Neither Reid nor his parents were informed that the school had cleared the teen of the claims before his death. 

“We feel like we both have life sentences without the possibility of parole,” Elizabeth Reid told the New York Times.

The school admits in a heartbreaking admission that Reid’s death could have been avoided if the situation had been addressed properly, adding, “There were also circumstances in which the involvement of an adult would have made a difference.”

The school seeks to “improve as a community, we have examined our role and take responsibility for what we could have done differently.”

“We recognize that in Jack’s case, we tragically fell short,” the statement said.

Lawrenceville declared in the statement, which is part of the settlement agreement, that its students’ “physical, social, and emotional health, safety, and wellbeing” are their top priority.

As part of the agreement, the school will create a new dean’s position for its 830 students that will solely focus on mental health issues, with the goal of becoming a campus voice against bullying.

“Jack was universally regarded as an exceptionally kind and good-hearted young man with a strong sense of social and civic responsibility and a promising future.” “We continue to be saddened by this loss,” the statement said.

Unlike public schools, which must follow state laws that govern bullying investigations and responses, private institutions have far more flexibility in how they address bullying.

Reid’s father stated that the family intends to lobby for legislation in New York and New Jersey to broaden anti-bullying laws in private schools.

“I do know if he were alive, he would want me — both of us — to try to make something good out of this and honor him in the way he lived his life,” his father said.

If you or someone you know is affected by suicidal thoughts or intentions, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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