“The only thing that is concrete and evident is that she did commit suicide,” Alston said. “At this standpoint, the school is denying any report was made to them of bullying and, so far, we haven’t been able to prove that there was any report made to them.”
McKenzie took her own life on Dec. 3, with her family pointing to racist bullying as the cause due to her friendship with a white student. “She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black b-tch,’ ‘just die’,” her aunt, Eddwina Harris said at the time. The family also said that they had brought up their concerns to the State Board of Education, however, school officials roundly disputed the family’s claim of bullying. The family also noted that McKenzie had transferred to U.S. Jones after enduring bullying at her old school in Linden, however, the superintendent of Linden City Schools also said that he could not verify any incident of McKenzie being bullied. That being said, Alston, who knows McKenzie’s family, also stressed that there is still no reason to doubt the family’s claims.
“I’m not saying they’re making false allegations,” he emphasized. “They may have made reports to the school; we just don’t have anything in writing.”