New York boarding school student who hanged himself was in isolation, family say

An Italian exchange student has hanged himself at an elite Westchester boarding school after being placed in solitary confinement for alleged cheating, his family said this week.

Claudio Mandia, 17, was found dead in a bedroom at EF Academy in Mount Pleasant on Saturday on the eve of his birthday, officials said.

His parents and three siblings flew to JFK Airport from Italy to celebrate the event, according to family attorney George Bochetto.

But they were instead greeted there by police and school officials who broke the tragic news of Mandia’s death.

“It was a complete and devastating shock,” Bochetto said. “They had no idea.”

Bochetto said they were later told by students and school sources that Mandia had been placed in what the attorney described as “segregation”, after being suspected of cheating by administrators.

The attorney said he was working with local investigators to piece together the exact sequence of events that led to Mandia’s death. He did not say exactly what the school-ordered isolation entailed.

The student’s uncle told The Daily Beast he believed Mandia killed himself because of a “sudden illness” triggered by his isolation.

Mandia was found dead in his room at EF Academy in Mount Pleasant the day before his birthday.
Courtesy of EF Academy

The teenager was due to graduate from the $62,000-a-year school in May and hoped to follow his father’s path in business.

“Claudio was a wonderful person and student and he couldn’t wait for his family to come from Italy to New York to celebrate his eighteenth birthday,” the family said in a statement.

EF Academy did not respond to the family’s claims in a statement.

“We are deeply, deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Claudio Mandia,” the school said. “Our hearts go out to his family and friends here in New York and at home in Italy. The safety of our school community is always our top priority. We have very strict policies and procedures in place regarding health and well-being of young people who are far from their country of origin.

Mandia was due to graduate from the elite school in Westchester in May.
Mandia was due to graduate from the elite school in Westchester in May.
Courtesy of EF Academy

Bochetto said he has yet to receive official correspondence from the school.

Mandia’s parents stayed in New York this week to arrange for the repatriation of his body to Italy.

“It’s a tragedy,” Bochetto said, adding that the results of an autopsy are expected in the coming days.

Martha K. Merrill