Chicago Public Schools and the estate of Jamari Dent have reached a settlement after the young child — a special needs student — died this June following a 2019 suicide attempt his mother claims was triggered by bullying from students and staff members at two separate schools.
The Chicago Board of Education met on Wednesday, Oct. 27, and voted to approve the settlement amount of $1.25 million to be paid to Jamari’s mother, Teirra Black.
Her suit claimed that officials at Evers Elementary and later at Carter G. Woodson Elementary failed to ensure Jamari’s safety. The boy was believed to have been bullied at both schools. The federal claim alleged that Jamari was called “a dirty little n-gger” and “stupid and dumb” by a white teacher at Woodson.
Staff and students alleged “repeatedly called [Jamari] ‘stupid,’ ‘dumb’ and ‘r******ed-’ and joked that he would end up at a facility for students with mental disabilities,” the legal claim read.
Another complaint stated that the school’s principal failed to take action or tell Jamari’s mother that a staff member had reportedly put the then-fourth grader in a chokehold and shoved his head against a wall.
In 2019, Jamari was found hanging in his home by his 9-year-old sister. He suffered permanent brain damage. He also lost his ability to walk or talk. His death was ultimately ruled a suicide. She argued that her son’s death could’ve been prevented and accused the schools of blocking her from protecting her son.
Following the boy’s funeral this summer, Black sent a message to other mothers out there: “If you know that your child is being bullied, please report it.” Attorney for the family Jon Erickson slammed the CPS system, stating they “failed” the boy and “other special needs children like him on a criminal level and they will be held to account.”
“This is the culmination of three years of horrific abuse, neglect and incompetence that resulted in an 11-year-old child feeling he had no option to relieve himself of the pain and cruelty he suffered at the hands of his teachers other than to take his own life,” Erickson added.