Maryland school system responds to wrongful death lawsuit in 2018 shooting

There was “no evidence whatsoever” that any employee of St. Mary’s County Public Schools could have foreseen the 2018 shooting that led to the death of a Great Mills High School student, the schools superintendent said.

In a response to WTOP’s request for comment on the recent lawsuit filed by 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey’s parents, Dr. J. Scott Smith wrote, “The death of Jaelynn Willey was a tragedy and the entire school community mourns her loss.”

But, the superintendent said, “The contention that school staff could have somehow prevented this tragedy is incorrect.”

Smith said that the school system worked closely with the sheriff’s office and the Maryland Center for School Safety, and that the school system could not have predicted the March 20, 2018 shooting that led to Willey’s death.

The 10th grader was shot by a boy she had dated, 17-year-old Austin Rollins, who then turned the gun on himself and took his own life in the school in 2018.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Willey’s parents, Daniel and Melissa Willey, alleges the school system was made aware that Rollins’ behavior posed a threat to Willey, that he was physically abusive to her in school, and that the school system failed to protect Willey and other students.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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