Special-needs student, 11, left with permanent brain damage after suicide attempt triggered by teachers' bullying
An 11-year-old Chicago boy who was left with permanent brain damage following an unsuccessful suicide attempt was relentlessly bullied by teachers and children at two different schools, a lawsuit filed by his mother claims.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, following fourth-grader Jamari Dent's near-fatal attempt to take his life this past February, his mother Teirra Black filed a federal lawsuit against the elementary school administrators and teachers, as well as the Chicago Board of Education at the Chicago's U.S District Court for failing to intervene and stop the chronic bullying her son had to endure.
The lawsuit, filed in April, states that Jamari (J.D.), a special education student, first became the target of bullies early in 2018, while he was enrolled at Evers Elementary School on the Far South Side.
It alleged that students as well as teachers "repeatedly called J.D. 'stupid,' 'dumb,' and 'retarded,'" and regularly joked that he would end up at a facility for students with mental disabilities.
The lawsuit names one particular teacher by name and states that the teacher encouraged J.D's classmates and joined them in calling the 11-year-old "dirty" and "nappy-headed." It also says the young boy was taunted and asked if "his brillo hair was the reason he couldn't read."
Black said the last straw was when this teacher hit Jamari in February, and that she transferred him to Woodson Elementary in Bronzeville following that incident. But the bullying still didn't stop, and in fact, got worse.
At Woodson, Jamari was reportedly struck by three teachers on separate occasions, each of which was ignored by the principal with "deliberate indifference." In December 2018, he was jumped by students in his class, an incident Black said was the turning point.
She said she had repeatedly called the principal and Child Protective Services (CPS) officials to tell them about the bullying, and even complained in person to the Board of Education but was ignored on each occasion.
On February 18 earlier this year, Jamari's sister found him hanging from a coat hook with a bed sheet tied around his neck inside their home. Black performed CPR on her son for 10-15 minutes before paramedics arrived and managed to save his life, but the damage had been done.
The lawsuit states the suicide attempt was the culmination of months of "physical violence, psychological abuse, bullying, harassment, and aggressive behavior."
Jamari has suffered permanent brain damage, and Black said the 11-year-old can't walk or talk and can only communicate through slight head movements. Doctors expect him to remain on a ventilator for the rest of his life.
During a press conference this week, Black's attorney Michael Oppenheimer said he now plans to file an all-encompassing federal civil-rights lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools and called on Chicago District Attorney Kim Foxx to launch a full-scale criminal investigation into the allegations detailed in the lawsuit.
Oppenheimer also called upon Mayor Lori Lightfoot to conduct her own independent probe into the incident.