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Mother of student killed at school bus stop files lawsuit claiming JCPS ‘failed to take reasonable safety measures’

The suit alleges the school district was aware of gang activity within the school system and Eastern High School prior to 16-year-old Tyree Smith's death.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Nearly one year since 16-year-old Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) student Tyree Smith was shot and killed at his school bus stop in Louisville, his mother is suing the school district on claims of negligence and recklessness in its "disregard for the safety of JCPS children at the bus stop."

Sherita Smith has filed a lawsuit against JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio and members of the Board of Education. According to the complaint, JCPS was aware of gang activity within the school system and Eastern High School at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year -- weeks before Tyree's death -- and of threats of shooting and violence between these gangs at schools.

The lawsuit claims JCPS also became aware of threats against bus stops for Eastern High School Bus #2080, on the route that ran through the intersection of WJ Hodge and Chestnut Streets, and failed to take action.

In the lawsuit, attorneys claim they learned through open records that one Eastern High School student involved in a gang related fight from Sept. 2, 2021 was the primary target of the shooting threats.

"Beginning August 2021, the school district was aware of specific threats made to shoot up that bus stop," Sherita Smith's attorney Kirsten Daniel said. "There was a fight that broke out from students of #2080. They suspended one student who we believe was the target of the shooting on Sept. 22 -- and Sept. 22 was the day that particular student was coming back to school."

Daniel and fellow attorney Stephanie Rivas are accusing JCPS of failing to warn parents of other JCPS students who waited at those bus stops about the shooting threats.

"They should have known there was going to be violence there," Daniel said.

According to the suit, Eastern High School students were confronted by men who shot at them and fled on Sept. 7, 2021.

Then, on Sept. 22, 2021, several JCPS students were waiting at the bus stop when a car drove by and started firing at them. While they ran for cover, three were shot.

Tyree was one of those three, and he died later that day.

Both the family and their lawyers have doubled down saying Tyree was not the intended target, further pushing their message that the shooting could have been avoided if the right precautions were taken.

"I have not seen one hint that he was the target. He was a good kid, worked really hard. He was the ideal kid you want," Daniel said.

A grand jury formally indicted two JCPS teens, 16-year-old Demaurion Moore and Mekhi Cable, in connection to the shooting on charges of complicity to murder. Both are being prosecuted as adults and are due back in court in October.

Attorneys claim within the lawsuit that JCPS had knowledge of the shooting threat and ‘failed to take reasonable safety measures.'

Following WHAS11'S request for a response to the claims, JCPS said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Attorneys say JCPS has about three weeks to file an official response to the lawsuit.

Tyree Smith would have been a senior at Eastern High School this school year. 

A JCPS spokesperson said one of Tyree's classmates will be planting a tree in his honor at Eastern High's memorial garden. WHAS11 has been told the area is being cleaned up and refurbished.

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