An Italian exchange student reportedly killed himself after he was accused of cheating and was placed in "solitary confinement" by school authorities on Saturday, Feb. 19.

On Saturday, on the eve of his birthday, Claudio Mandia, 17, was tragically discovered dead in a room at the exclusive school E.F. Academy in Mount Pleasant, Westchester County. Hours later, when Mandia's parents and family members arrived at the JFK Airport to celebrate his birthday, they were instead met by police and school officials who revealed to them the news of the teen student's sudden death, the New York Post reported.

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

According to Bochetto, students and school sources revealed that Mandia had been placed in “isolation” after being suspected of cheating by administrators. The lawyer added that he is working with investigators to find the exact sequence of events that triggered Mandia’s death.

Meanwhile, Pietro Benesatto, Mandia's uncle, speculated that the boy may have killed himself due to a "sudden illness" fueled by the stress from the alleged self-isolation forced upon him by the school. The family called the circumstances and the institution's reprehensible actions “the direct cause of Mandia's suicide,” and said that they “intend to take action” against the school, the Independent reported.

EF Academy is reported to have a policy of isolating expelled students until they can fly home or get picked up by their parents.

“We are deeply, deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Claudio Mandia. The safety of our school community is always our top priority … We are in close contact with the local authorities who are investigating the circumstances of his death. We are heartbroken and have offered to provide whatever support Claudio’s family may require, while also mobilizing counselors and additional support for our broader school community,” EF Academy said in a statement.

Mandia's parents Elisabetta and Mauro Mandia run a successful frozen Italian pizza export firm called Fiad. The business generates $15 million in sales a year. Mandia was reportedly planning to graduate from the $62,000-a-year boarding school EF Academy in May 2022 and hoped to follow his father’s path into business, the Daily Mail reported.

Meanwhile, the Mount Pleasant Police Department said that they are investigating the incident and are awaiting the autopsy results.

Rope, suicide
This is a representational image. Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash

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