A group of parents have filed a lawsuit against Chicago Public School Systems, claiming students at two Chicago schools have endured chronic bullying from teachers for over a year.
“These parents, they sit here today, they love their children. Most parents love their children and was them to be protected but they feel helpless because they’re not getting what they deserve, what the school system has promised them and that’s why we filed this lawsuit,” Michael Oppenheimer, an attorney for the parents said. “We’re putting everyone on notice that there needs to be a change.”
A special needs teacher at Woodsen and a dean of students at South Shore Fine Arts Academy are named in two of the lawsuits. The two of them have been criminally charged for abuse and assault.
Tierra Black is one of the parents who is suing CPS. Her 11-year-old son Jamari Dent was a student at Woodsen Elementary in Bronzeville and was reportedly bullied by teachers and authorities didn’t do anything to stop it. In February, he attempted to commit suicide and suffered permanent brain damage because of it.
The lawsuit claims that students and teachers called Jamari “dumb,” “stupid” and “retarded” and joked that he would have to go to a facility for students with mental disabilities.
During one incident, a teacher allegedly called Jamari “dirty” and “nappy-headed” before asking him if his “brillo hair was the reason he couldn’t read.” That same teacher allegedly assaulted him in February 2018, causing injuries.
“With his and his mother’s continued pleas for relief to teachers and administrators ignored, J.D. saw no other way to stop the pain than to go into his bedroom, close the door, tie a bed sheet around his neck and hang himself on a coat hook,” the lawsuit said. “His suicide attempt was the result of over a year of chronic bullying and violent conduct at the hands of teachers and students at Evers Elementary and then Woodson Elementary.”
“They were causing the bullying,” Black said. “It started with the teachers. There’s no reason why my son should be laying in a hospital bed because I asked for help and I never got it.”
The district said it has begun an investigation into Black’s claims about her son’s abuse.