A mother is taking legal action after she alleges that her son was repeatedly bullied by students and staff at two separate Chicago Public Schools. Her son, a fourth grade special needs student, attempted suicide earlier this year.
According to ABC News, the lawsuit filed by Tierra Black names the Chicago Board of Education and individual staff members as defendants, and accuses students and teachers of mocking and taunting 11-year-old Jamari Dent by calling him names such as “dirty,” “stupid” and “retarded.” Black insists that the torment started with educators, and trickled down to her son’s peers.
“It started with the teachers, what went on with my son,” Black told Chicago’s ABC local affiliate, WLS. “There is no reason my son should be lying in a hospital bed. I asked for help. And I never got it. I never got it.”
In February, after Black says Jamari was bullied out of Evers Elementary and had endured a year of chronic, and sometimes violent ridicule at Woodson Elementary, which he transferred to in hopes of getting a fresh start, Jamari tried to hang himself. Although he was not successful, the incident caused permanent brain damage and life-threatening injuries.
On Tuesday, Black and attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who was hired to represent the family, held a press conference where Oppenheimer called on Chicago State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to conduct a full criminal investigation on the leaders of the school who were notified about the serious nature of the bullying, but in his and Black’s estimation, did nothing.
Oppenheimer currently represents three civil cases against the school system and plans to file an all-encompassing federal lawsuit against the school district, according to ABC News.
In a statement to WLS, CPS spokesman Emily Bolton said, “The district has no tolerance for adults who harm or fail to protect students. All allegations of bullying and student harm are taken seriously by the district, and we are fully committed to ensuring all students are supported and adults are held accountable.”