A Chicago fourth-grader remains on life support after he attempted suicide days earlier.
Jamari Dent is a student at Carter G. Woodson Elementary who is enrolled in a special education class. He suffered through months of bullying from students and teachers alike, his mother claims. After his complaints continued to be disregarded, he tried to take his own life on Feb. 18.
“Monday night my son Jamari was found hanging from a sheet in his room by his 9-year-old sister,” the 11-year-old’s mother, Teirra Black, wrote in her GoFundMe campaign to pay for medical expenses. “Jamari was not breathing when he was found. I (his mother) did cpr on him for 10 to 15mins total, the police arrived than me … and an officer we both continue cpr. Shortly after Emt arrived they also continue to do Cpr on Jamari. My son Jamari is now in the hospital fighting for his life, he’s on life support. Any donations for medical expenses and therapy aftercare would be greatly appreciated.”
As of Feb. 22, Black’s son remained hospitalized at Comer Children’s Hospital. Black told the Chicago Sun-Times she’s been in touch with Woodson Elementary since last school year when Jamari was being tormented. The bullying reached its height in December when Black’s son got jumped in class, leading to bruises on his face. The incident went unreported to her, she says.
Additionally, Black alleges Jamari has been bullied not only by students but teachers as well. The mother says one teacher grabbed and scratched his arm and he’s specifically had issues with his own teacher since the school year began.
“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,” Black said, adding that the instructor joked her son would wind up at a facility for students with mental disabilities.
Black told WGN she spoke with Principal Tamara Littlejohn, but there has been no end to the bullying.
“My son told me he wished he died four months ago,” Black said. “He’s tired of the teachers messing with him.”
Jamari’s mom also visited with the Chicago Board of Education after repeatedly calling Chicago Public Schools.
“I went to the board. They told me it was my son’s word against the teacher’s word, and they couldn’t do anything about it, and that’s not right,” she told CBS Chicago.
But officials never contacted her until community activist Jedidiah Brown went on Facebook Live, broadcasting from her son’s hospital room early Feb. 22.
Ja’Mal Green, another community activist, was with Black and Jamari’s family that day and has been lending them his assistance.
“We conditionally have to get to the point where families have to suffer for something to be done,” he said. “Jamari is on life support for extensive brain damage because he tried to attempt suicide. Jamari was jumped by several students in a gym room a month ago. [He] was bullied and taunted by teachers as well as students.”
CPS spokesman Michael Passman deemed Jamari’s suicide attempt a “tragic incident” and said they wouldn’t delay on making adults take responsibility if they violated the district’s 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,” he said. “The allegations that have been made are highly concerning, and the district is conducting a full investigation.”
Black ultimately met with school officials that evening, and while she’s glad that the district is conducting a probe, she’s looking to transfer them from the school.
“If they would have nipped this in the bud when I came up here it wouldn’t have gotten this far,” Black said to WGN.
Meanwhile, donations have continued to flow into the GoFundMe Black set up to help pay for her son’s hospital bills. So far, the campaign is more than halfway toward its $5,000 goal.