Chicago Public Schools is being sued after a heartbroken mother claims incessant bullying not only at the hands of students, but from educators and staff as well, drove her 11-year-old son to attempt suicide.
According to ABC 7, Tierra Black now joins a group of frustrated parents who’ve accused CPS of turning a blind eye to the growing issue of bullying. In just the past three years, at least three lawsuits have been filed against the school district over incidents involving the alleged bullying of special-needs students, the station reports.
Black’s is the latest complaint, which contends that relentless bullying and harassment by teachers at Carter G. Woodson Elementary in Bronzeville are to blame for her son’s attempted suicide early this year. Her son, Jamari Dent, tried hanging himself in February.
He survived, but the attempt left young Jamari fighting for his life. His mom said he suffered permanent brain damage and will likely require breathing assistance for the rest of his life.
The fourth-grader remains hospitalized at La Rabida Children’s Hospital.
“They were causing the bullying,” Black said of her son’s teachers. “It started with [them], 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 frustrated mother said her child, who is a special-needs student, had been tormented since last year. She said the bullying peaked in December when Jamari was jumped in class — an incident she said school officials never made her aware of. Black said the attack left her son with cuts and bruises on his face.
The teachers were apparently no better than the students when it came to the harassment. Black accused one teacher of manhandling her son and scratching his arm in the process.
“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,” the mother said at the time, adding that the teacher joked that her son would wind up at a facility for mentally disabled students.
Recent studies have shown an increase in suicide among Black youths over the past few years. A study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in 2018 also found that suicide rates for African-American children aged 5-12 were roughly twice as high of those of similarly-aged white children.
Frustrated over it all, Black decided to take the Chicago schools to court. Her complaint is now one of three lawsuits filed against CPS being represented by attorney Michael Oppenheimer, ABC 7 reported.
“I’m calling on [Cook County State’s Attorney] Kim Foxx to do a full investigation, a criminal investigation, on these principals — who have 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 said.
The Chicago lawyer is already representing one case where a CPS teacher pleaded guilty to criminal battery after dragging a special-needs student headfirst down a flight of stairs in 2016.
Oppenheimer said an all-encompassing federal lawsuit against the school district is in the works.
Atlanta Black Star reached out to Chicago Public Schools for comment but has not received a reply at the time of this writing.
Photo Credit: New York Daily News