Chicago mother claims 11-year-old son attempted suicide after bullying by teachers

CHICAGO (WLS/CNN) - The mother of an 11-year-old boy with special needs who tried to hang himself has joined with a group of parents to sue Chicago Public Schools, accusing teachers and staff of bullying the students.

Although 11-year-old Jamari Dent survived a suicide attempt last February, he was left with permanent brain damage and unable to breathe on his own.

Jamari Dent, 11, tried to hang himself last February. He survived but was left with permanent brain damage.
Jamari Dent, 11, tried to hang himself last February. He survived but was left with permanent brain damage. (Source: Erickson and Oppenheimer/WLS/CNN)

Jamari’s mother, Tierra Black, says her son, a fourth grader and special needs student at Woodson Elementary School, suffered constant insults and even physical abuse while at school.

The 11-year-old had already switched schools once, and he was asking to do so again.

“They were causing the bullying. It started with the teachers what went on with my son. There is no reason my son should be lying in a hospital bed because I asked for help. I never got it,” Black said.

Black is now part of a group of parents suing Chicago Public Schools. Her case is one of three civil cases against the district represented by attorney Michael Oppenheimer.

One of the other cases is also against Woodson and resulted in a teacher pleading guilty to criminal battery charges after dragging a special needs student headfirst down a flight of stairs in 2016.

Oppenheimer says he plans to file an all-encompassing federal lawsuit against the school district.

“I’m calling [for]… 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.

Also standing up were Anthony Townsend Sr. and his 7-year-old son Zacharion, a second grader at Horizon Science Academy. Townsend says that between January and April 2019, his son was harassed by his own teachers.

“They placed him at a desk with his back facing the rest of the classroom, facing the wall, in between a file cabinet and a row of lockers,” Townsend said.

Horizon is not in the CPS district, and no lawsuit has yet been filed in the case.

No date has been announced for the filing of the all-encompassing civil suit. Both CPS and Horizon say they don’t tolerate bullying and take any allegations of bullying behavior seriously.

Copyright 2019 WLS, Erickson and Oppenheimer via CNN. All rights reserved.