A 13-year-old Florida girl spent more than a week in a juvenile detention facility after a classmate pretended to be the bullied teen on Instagram and threatened their school, a new lawsuit says.
Nia Whims’ family has sued the Renaissance Charter School at Pines near Miami over the episode that resulted in her being detained for 11 days, NBC News reported.
The suit, which also names Instagram its parent company Meta, claims that the seventh-grader had been bullied in August and requested a meeting with school officials.
But after meeting never happened, her mother, Lezlie-Ann Davis, finally decided to pull Nia out of the school in Pembroke Pines because the bullying continued, according to the outlet.
In November, a former classmate allegedly created a fake Instagram account using Nia’s name – and sent herself messages that “included threats to blow up the school and kill people,” NBC News reported, citing the family’s lawsuit.
The ex-classmate, identified as M.S., sent the threats to herself and a teacher, who reported the matter to school officials and law enforcement – leading the facility to be placed on limited lockdown.
M.S. allegedly implicated Nia, who was reportedly arrested on Nov. 19 despite denying sending any threats.
She 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 and forced to undergo a psychological evaluation, according to the lawsuit.
She spent 11 days in detention before being released on Nov. 29 when investigators determined that M.S. had sent the threatening missives.
“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 replies.
But her mom said the family wants to hold those responsible 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.
Police said the family did not cooperate with the probe until December, when Davis provided information that led them to subpoena an IP address connected to the messages, NBC News reported.
But the family said they gave investigators the iPad that Nia had used to talk to M.S. the day she was arrested.
The other girl has been charged with several crimes including written threats to kill or do bodily harm and falsifying a police report, NBC News reported.
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.
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, the lawsuit states.
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.