US

Teachers From Two Chicago Schools Accused of Bullying Special Needs Student Before He Tried Killing Himself

By Zachary Stieber

A Chicago mother has filed a lawsuit accusing teachers of bullying her 11-year-old special needs son so badly that he tried committing suicide.

Jamari Dent attempted suicide in February. He survived but is not able to breathe without assistance and suffered permanent brain damage.

Jamari’s mother said that he was incessantly bullied in the Chicago Public Schools system by not only fellow students but teachers and other staff.

“They were causing the bullying,” Tierra Black told WLS. “It started with the teachers, what went on with my son. There is no reason my son should be lying in a hospital bed. I asked for help. And I never get it. I never get it.”

The abuse happened at Bronzeville’s Woodson Elementary School, which Jamari transferred to after getting bullied at another school, Black said.

Things got so bad that Jamari tried hanging himself. His younger sister found him and he was rushed to the hospital.

“He tried to commit suicide because of how he’s treated at school,” Black told the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this year.

Black said she tried multiple times to tell school officials about the bullying but was ignored. In December, a group of students beat him in a classroom and no one called his mother, she said. Teachers grabbed and scratched the boy multiple times and have called him names, she added. His classroom teacher was the worst, according to Black.

“She’s been messing with him ever since [the start of the school year] because he has a learning disability, calling him stupid, dumb, retarded,” and joking that he would be transferred to a facility for students with mental health issues, Black said.

The school district said it was investigating the allegations.

“This is a horrible tragedy, and the thoughts and prayers of the Chicago Public Schools community are with Jamari and his loved ones,” district spokesman Michael Passman said. “The allegations that have been made are highly concerning, and the district is conducting a full investigation.”

The school district is facing two other civil cases. All three families are being represented by attorney Michael Oppenheimer.

Another case involves a teacher admitting they dragged a special needs student down a flight of stairs in 2016.

“I’m calling on Kim Foxx to do a full investigation, a criminal investigation, on these principals—who’ve already been placed on notice as to what’s going on and not doing anything—and to the teachers, who are criminally liable for causing these problems and not fixing them,” Oppenheimer told WLS.

He also said he will file a federal lawsuit against the district.

Oppenheimer said the lawsuits show “over a year of chronic bullying and violent conduct at the hands of teachers and students” at two different Chicago schools, reported WGN-TV.

“These parents, they sit here today, they love their children. Most parents love their children and was them to be protected but they feel helpless because they’re not getting what they deserve, what the school system has promised them and that’s why we filed this lawsuit,” he said. “We’re putting everyone on notice that there needs to be a change.”