Mother Sues After She Claims Teachers Bullied Son, 11, Before He Attempted Suicide

June 12, 2019 Updated: June 12, 2019

A Chicago mother has claimed months of bullying by Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff led to her 11-year-old son’s suicide attempt, according to a lawsuit.

Jamari Dent, 11, a special education student at Bronzeville’s Carter G. Woodson Elementary School, survived the attempt on his life on Feb. 18, but has been left with life-changing injuries; permanent brain damage and requiring breathing assistance for life.

The 11-year-old remains in hospital in La Rabida, unable to breathe on his own.

Now, Dent’s mother, Tierra Black, has joined several parents suing Chicago Public Schools, which has had at least three legal complaints filed against them over the past three years, reported ABC 7.

The group of parents alleges that special needs students have been bullied by teachers and staff as well as classmates.

Dent’s younger sister discovered the boy after his apparent suicide attempt, and he was rushed to Comer Children’s Hospital, their mother said, claiming months of harassment by teachers and staff was to blame.

“He tried to commit suicide because of how he’s treated at school,” she told the Chicago Sun Times.

“They were causing the bullying,” Black told ABC 7. “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.”

Dent’s mother claims he was constantly insulted by teachers and staff at the school, and was even physically abused. He had asked her to switch schools, and had already done so once before, she said.

“My son is not the same. He’s like a whole, totally different child,” Black told the Chicago Star Times outside La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

The lawsuit claims Dent’s bullying began at Evers Elementary School, where he was repeatedly called “‘stupid,’ ‘dumb’ and ‘retarded,’” by teachers and students, who also joked he would “end up at a facility for students with mental disabilities.”

A teacher from the school, who is a defendant in the suit, allegedly struck the boy last February. The same teacher also allegedly encouraged Dent’s classmates by joining in and calling him “dirty” and “nappy-headed,” the lawsuit reads.

Dent was then transferred to Carter G. Woodson Elementary in Bronzeville, where things got worse, Black said. He was hit by teachers on several occasions, Black claims, leaving marks on his skin.

Despite repeated complaints to the school’s principal, Chicago Public Schools officials, and the Board of Education, nothing changed, the suit says.

Her complaints follow two other recent cases against Chicago Public Schools, including another case against Dent’s school in 2016, in which a teacher pleaded guilty to criminal battery charges for dragging a special needs student down a flight of stairs headfirst.

Attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who is representing all three civil cases, said he plans to file an all-encompassing federal lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools, but no date has been set yet, reported ABC 7.

“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 said.

The school district said in a statement: “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.”

If you or someone you know is showing signs that they might be suicidal, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 800-273-TALK. You can also text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.