Music Teacher Charged in 11-Year-Old Student’s Suicide

A Wyoming-based music teacher, Amelia Giordano, has entered a plea of not guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the suicide of a fifth-grade student at Carpenter Elementary School in Laramie County, Wyoming. The student, Paul Pine, had been grappling with mental health issues throughout the 2022-23 academic year. His mother, Chandel Pine, has stated that Paul’s reading difficulties led to him being singled out by various school staff members.

In the fall of the same year, Paul confided in his mother about his suicidal thoughts, specifically mentioning the idea of hanging himself in the school’s boys’ bathroom. Following this revelation, Chandel Pine reached out to the school authorities and arranged for an individualized education program to ensure her son’s safety. The school’s principal also issued instructions to the staff, prohibiting students from using the restroom without supervision.

Despite these safety measures, Paul informed a teacher in December that he had brought a knife to school and was experiencing disturbing thoughts. His father was called to the school to take him home. The school administration contemplated expelling Paul for bringing a weapon to school, and he was kept away from school for over a week. He was allowed to return to school on a probationary basis just three days before the Christmas break.

Chandel Pine made several attempts to communicate with the school district’s attorney, the principal, and the superintendent. She even addressed the Board of Trustees, pleading with them not to penalize her son for seeking help.

On January 9, a few weeks later, Paul was in a music class taught by Amelia Giordano. During the class, Paul requested to use the bathroom, and Giordano allegedly allowed him to go. Paul was absent for 17 minutes, during which Giordano and another adult reportedly checked the boys’ bathroom several times. The principal discovered Paul in a state of medical distress, hanging from a coat rack in a bathroom stall, and immediately began CPR. Paul was revived and airlifted to a Denver hospital, where he passed away three days later, a month before his 12th birthday.

In late July, Giordano, 31, was charged with abandoning or endangering a child, a misdemeanor that could result in a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The Laramie County District Attorney’s office alleges that Giordano left Paul unattended despite safety measures being in place, contributing to his suicide. Giordano pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on her own recognizance. She is due for another hearing in November and is still listed as a music teacher at Carpenter and Pine Bluffs Elementary Schools on the district’s website.

The principal of Carpenter Elementary and the superintendent of Laramie County School District #2 have not yet responded to requests for comment. Chandel Pine stated that she had adhered to all safety plans, including removing potential hazards from their home. She expressed disappointment that the school did not follow the safety plan. The Pine family is also contemplating a civil lawsuit against the school district.