Bullied teen Nia Whims, 13, was sent to jail for almost two weeks in a juvenile detention center after a classmate pretended to be her on Instagram, a new lawsuit states.
The bullied teen’s family has sued the Renaissance Charter School at Pines near Miami over the incident. NBC News reported that Whims was jailed for 11 days for a crime she didn’t commit.
Instagram and its parent company Meta were also named in the suit. The lawsuit claimed the seventh-grader had requested a meeting with school officials after being bullied in August.
The bullying continued, and the meeting with school officials never happened. Lezlie-Ann Davis, Whims’ mother, decided to take her out of the school in Pembroke Pines.
A fake Instagram account using the Florida teen’s name was created in November by a former classmate, and she sent herself messages that “included threats to blow up the school and kill people,” NBC News reported, citing the family’s lawsuit.
Identified as M.S., the former classmate sent the threats to herself and a teacher. The teacher reported the messages to school officials and law enforcement. This led to the facility being placed on limited lockdown.
Despite denying sending the threats, M.S. implicated Whims, and she was reportedly arrested on November 19.
According to the suit, the accused student was sent to a juvenile detention center on a felony charge of making a written threat to do bodily harm or commit an act of terrorism. Whims was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation.
After spending 11 days in lockup, Whims was released on November 29 after investigators determined that M.S. had sent the threatening messages.
“Failure to promptly investigate this easily discoverable information by the Pembroke Pines Police Department caused (Nia Whims) to remain in a juvenile detention facility away from her family for eleven days,” the lawsuit reportedly says.
A judge who dropped the charges told the teen, “Do you have any questions for me? Good luck. I’m really sorry you went through this,” WPLG reported.
“It’s OK,” Nia replied.
Whims’ mother wants those responsible for her daughter’s detention held accountable.
“They need to make sure they do their homework prior to putting our children in handcuffs and locking them up,” said the family’s attorney, Marwan Porter, CBS4, reported.
“That platform was used to frame Nia,” Porter added, referring to Instagram.
NBC reported that the police claimed the family did not corporate with the investigation until December, when Davis provided information that led them to subpoena an IP address connected to the messages.
However, the family argues that they handed over the iPad Whims used to talk to M.S. the day she was arrested.
NBC reported that the other girl had been charged with several crimes, including written threats to kill or do bodily harm and falsifying a police report.
Renaissance Charter School told the network in a statement: “Our highest priority remains the safety and security of our students.
“We always have and always will take all appropriate actions to ensure our students and staff are safe. We are not at liberty to discuss any private student issues, and we do not comment on pending litigation,” a spokesperson added.
The lawsuit states that Meta, the parent company for Instagram, allegedly failed to “promptly provide or cooperate with the investigating officers,” which led to a delay in clearing Nia.
A Meta rep did not immediately return a request for comment by NBC News.
“It was heartbreaking that everybody thought it was me,” Nia told WPLG.