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Fighting for accountability after the death of a Chicago child

Relentless bullying and the Chicago Public Schools system’s failure to do anything about it has led to the death of a Chicago child, a lawsuit alleges.

In February 2019, Jamari Dent, then age 11, wrapped a bedsheet around his neck and hung it from a coat hook in a desperate attempt to end the pain caused by years of abuse and neglect at Evers Elementary and Carter G. Woodson Elementary Schools in Chicago. The suicide was not successful, but the attempt caused permanent brain damage that would forever alter and eventually end Jamari’s short life on June 10, 2021.

The federal lawsuit, filed by Erickson & Oppenheimer, Ltd., the attorneys for Jamari and his family, alleges that the treatment of Jamari was part of a larger pattern of abuse inflicted upon students with special needs in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The suit argues that Jamari’s suicide attempt could have been prevented if officials hadn’t ignored his mother’s pleas to protect her son from abuse and bullying by students and school faculty and administration. Following Jamari’s death, the lawsuit will be amended to include claims for wrongful death.

A student with nowhere to turn

The brutality alleged in the lawsuit is painful to even imagine. After facing relentless bullying from fellow students, Jamari turned to teachers and staff. Rather than protecting him, the suit alleges, the adults he confided in turned a blind eye to the bullying and even leveled their own vicious attacks against the helpless child.

Alleged incidents include one teacher placing the child in a chokehold and another calling Jamari “a dirty little n—–” and “stupid and dumb.” The suit alleges that the failure of CPS directly led to Jamari’s suicide attempt, which, after two years of failing health, resulted in his wrongful death.

Breaking destructive patterns

Erickson & Oppenheimer, Ltd. are passionate advocates for abused and neglected children and are honored to represent Jamari’s family in this lawsuit. Attorney Jon Erickson, speaking on behalf of the grieving family, said that, “CPS has a pervasive, widespread practice of allowing teachers to abuse special needs students in that school. The principal at Woodson oversaw a house of horrors at that school and allowed it to continue.”

By taking strong legal action against CPS, Jamari’s family is not only seeking justice for their child. They are also fighting for change that will safeguard other children from these destructive practices and their tragic outcomes. Erickson & Oppenheimer, Ltd. is proud to serve as their steadfast advocate.

Get legal help if you need it

If you or someone close to you has suffered due to abuse or neglect in a Chicago school or other institution, talk with an attorney who can help you understand your rights and options.

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