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Bullying by classmates, teachers pushed 4th grader to suicide attempt, mom says

Jamari Dent remains hospitalized at Comer Childrens Hospital. | Screenshot from video by Jedidiah Brown

Jamari Dent remains hospitalized at Comer Childrens Hospital. | Screenshot from video by Jedidiah Brown

Months of bullying in a Bronzeville classroom and complaints to administrators that went ignored led an 11-year-old South Side boy to attempt suicide earlier this week, according to his mother.

Carter G. Woodson Elementary fourth-grader Jamari Dent remained on life support at Comer Children’s Hospital Friday evening, four days after his younger sister found him hanging from a coat hook with a bed sheet tied around his neck, their mother, Teirra Black, said.

“He tried to commit suicide because of how he’s treated at school,” she said.

Dating back to last school year, Black said she repeatedly called the school and principal to complain that other students were ridiculing and physically hurting Jamari, a special education student.

Carter G. Woodson Elementary, 4414 S. Evans Ave. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Carter G. Woodson Elementary, 4414 S. Evans Ave. | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Things came to a head in December when a group of students jumped the boy in class, and no one from the school ever called Black, she said.

Worse, the mother claims, is that teachers have joined in the name-calling. Black accused staffers of grabbing and scratching Jamari on at least two occasions. She said the boy has had particular problems with his classroom teacher this year.

“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,” and joking that he’d end up at a facility for students with mental disabilities, Black said.

Teirra Black | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Teirra Black | Mitchell Armentrout/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools officials called Jamari’s apparent suicide attempt a “tragic incident” and said the district wouldn’t hesitate to hold adults accountable if they violated their anti-bullying policy.

“This is a horrible tragedy, and the thoughts and prayers of the Chicago Public Schools community are with Jamari and his loved ones,” district spokesman Michael Passman said. “The allegations that have been made are highly concerning, and the district is conducting a full investigation.”

The district was providing crisis assistance resources for Woodson students and staff.

Black said she had also repeatedly called CPS and complained in person to the Chicago Board of Education, but never heard from any officials until after community activist Jedidiah Brown streamed live on Facebook from Jamari’s hospital room early Friday.

After meeting with CPS officials Friday afternoon at the school at 4414 S. Evans Ave., Black said she appreciated their vows of a thorough investigation but was unsatisfied and still looking to transfer both her children from Woodson.

“I’ll be satisfied when [the teacher] is out of this school,” Black said.

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