CHICAGO — Several parents called on Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to investigate cases of alleged bullying by teachers in Chicago schools.
Michael Oppenheimer is the attorney representing a group parents in a federal lawsuit that alleges “over a year of chronic bullying and violent conduct at the hands of teachers and students” at two different Chicago schools.
“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,” he said. “We’re putting everyone on notice that there needs to be a change.”
Among the parents suing CPS is Teirra Black whose 11-year-old son Jamari Dent was a student at Woodsen Elementary in Bronzeville. He has permanent brain damage. In February, he tried to commit suicide.
“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.”
A special needs teacher at Woodsen and a dean of students at South Shore Fine Arts Academy are named in two of the lawsuits. Both are charged criminally in Cook County for abuse and assault.
In a statement CPS said, in part, “The district has no tolerance for adults who harm or fail to protect students. All allegations of bullying and student harm are taken seriously by the district.”
Black disagrees and said the system set up to protect failed.
“I emailed the board of education. I called Springfield. I called the district numerous times,” she said. “The only thing they told me is that it was an ongoing investigation. And during that ongoing investigation, my son ended up hanging himself.”