Inquiry rules out bullying death of fifth-grader

Wednesday, May 20, 2009 1:55 PM
Last updated 3:07 PM
  • Follow Latest News

DECATUR, Ga. - An Atlanta area 5th grader was not bullied before he committed suicide in April, according to an independent investigation ordered by DeKalb County school officials.

Instead, interviews with more than 50 teachers and friends at Dunaire Elementary suggest outside factors - including the death of a close relative - influenced 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera to take his own life, school officials said at a news conference Wednesday.

"I see no evidence of any verbal or written report of bullying against Jaheem, by anyone," said retired Fulton County Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, who was retained by Dekalb County School System officials to review circumstances preceding the boy's death.

Authorities say a family member discovered Jaheem's body in his Atlanta-area home after he hanged himself on April 16.

Masika Bermudez, insists her son was bullied at Dunaire Elementary, in Stone Mountain, and that administrators did nothing even after she visited several times.

Wednesday, Moore outlined a detailed chronology of events in the months preceding Jaheem's death. Moore said Bermudez visited the school at least twice just before her son's death, and frequently complained that she "didn't like the way children treated each other" in America and planned to return to her native St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands.

But "In neither incident was there any complaint that Jaheem was being bullied," Moore said. "There was no specific complaint, just general comments."

Moore said several children interviewed reported Jaheem suffered the same amount of teasing as most of his peers. Teachers, meanwhile, said he was hit hard by the recent death of his grandmother, and commented that he wanted to be buried next to her.

"I conclude that a multiplicity of factors appear to coincide to explain this tragic fact," Moore said during a news conference that was closed to the Bermudez family and others not in the media.

The news conference was broadcast on a screen outside the room and a woman could be heard sobbing loudly during parts of the presentation. School system safety officers charged two protesters with trespassing and obstruction after they chanted "shame" and refused to leave, according to school system spokesman Dale Davis.

Gerald Griggs, an attorney representing Bermudez, said the family was "shocked" at the results of the investigation.

"(Jaheem) was bullied repeatedly at Dunaire Elementary, which caused his death," Griggs said.

The family has filed an intent to sue DeKalb County Schools, the county and school administrators. The county and school district have 30 days to respond before the lawsuit becomes official.

Comments (20) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
roundaboutway
0
Points
roundaboutway 05/20/09 - 02:39 pm
0
0
Sounds to me like someone

Sounds to me like someone wants to get "paid".

GACopperhead
6
Points
GACopperhead 05/20/09 - 04:18 pm
0
0
Sounds to me like someone is

Sounds to me like someone is trying to cover their behinds......

justus4
107
Points
justus4 05/20/09 - 05:52 pm
0
0
This judge has offered a poor
Unpublished

This judge has offered a poor ruling, but the parents do have other avenues for justice.

gnumbgnuts
0
Points
gnumbgnuts 05/20/09 - 06:51 pm
0
0
Yep, other avenues to drive

Yep, other avenues to drive their butts home and find another income. The gravy train has left the station.

Margot
0
Points
Margot 05/20/09 - 07:58 pm
0
0
He was just a little kid! I

He was just a little kid! I hope the parents take the other road.. hire a private investigator (a good one). Something was going on in that pool little guy's life.

Fiat_Lux
15913
Points
Fiat_Lux 05/20/09 - 09:59 pm
0
0
Document, document, document.

Document, document, document. It doesn't matter if he got the same amount of abuse all the other kids get. What matters is that he got any abuse at all and that his teachers didn't bring it to a quick end. I hope these parents break the school system over this. Bullying goes on virtually everywhere in public schools and in some private schools, without any effective remedy. Some of the little darlings guilty of bullying should have their parents held accountable when a tragedy like this happens, if it can be shown their kids were tormenters. I'm really sick of the transformation of public schools that has happened since about 1970, which is about the time when public schools stopped being about education and became about maintaining control of all the losers being babysat for 12 or more years at public expense.

palomino9
0
Points
palomino9 05/20/09 - 10:22 pm
0
0
and the story continues,

and the story continues, because someone is gay, that makes it ok to make fun. what a horrible society we live in

mieshel
3
Points
mieshel 05/20/09 - 11:36 pm
0
0
Some atlanta schools are

Some atlanta schools are outrageous,,,I was visiting a highschool and was cursed out by school security and told to go to class. I. refused, and was threatned with pepper spray. After talkin and writing letters , I received the apology that I deserved. All the drama just to pick up a sick nephew

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 05/20/09 - 11:54 pm
0
0
Frivilous law suits no matter

Frivilous law suits no matter what the reason are pathetic. Maybe school systems should begin to sue parents who fail to properly know and educate their children in how to act properly, etc. Sorry for thier loss but suing the school is ridiculous.

cajunnana2000
2
Points
cajunnana2000 05/21/09 - 12:54 am
0
0
Asking 50 teachers from the

Asking 50 teachers from the school where he was allegded to have been bullied is like asking the KKK if they hung a black man.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 05/21/09 - 06:55 am
0
0
palimino, are you saying a

palimino, are you saying a prepubescent boy was acting out a perverted lifestyle so he was teased and bullied to death? I missed that part of the story.

shel2u
0
Points
shel2u 05/21/09 - 07:26 am
0
0
I am truly sorry for the loss

I am truly sorry for the loss of this child. If you suspect your child is being bullied to the point of suicide, I would think you would do a little more fighting on his part by going above the principal to higher authorities. Rage against the machine until you find someone to listen. It is your responsibility as a parent.

LadyCisback
4
Points
LadyCisback 05/21/09 - 08:04 am
0
0
they are hiding the truth..

they are hiding the truth.. and now a child is lost.. sorry for the loss...

justthefacts
22767
Points
justthefacts 05/21/09 - 08:29 am
0
0
Might want to consider a

Might want to consider a private school for your kids.

j2says
3
Points
j2says 05/21/09 - 08:40 am
0
0
Ok, it doesn't matter if the

Ok, it doesn't matter if the child is black or white. What does matter is if the school let the child be harassed on a consistent basis. No one on this site knows what happened. What we do know is that the child felt such despair as to end his own life and that's sad. All this racial nonsense has no place here. No to mention the child was from St. Croix he spoke differently, had a different culture and background and was new to the school so it's hard for me to believe that he had to endure the same amount of teasing as everyone else.

GnipGnop1
2
Points
GnipGnop1 05/21/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
Looks like the foxes watching

Looks like the foxes watching the henhouse. Independent investigation. I no more believe a government paid employee to investigate a government funded institution than I would trust Bill Clinton at a intern convention.

drumbeater1
1
Points
drumbeater1 05/21/09 - 09:35 am
0
0
here ya go justus4...call yo

here ya go justus4...call yo boy al sharpton, this is right up his ally

AAQueen
18
Points
AAQueen 05/21/09 - 10:00 am
0
0
It states that the teacher

It states that the teacher heard him say that he wanted to buried next to his grandmother; that alone should have raised red flags.

corgimom
34239
Points
corgimom 05/21/09 - 12:56 pm
0
0
We can't stand the bullies.

We can't stand the bullies. We know who they are. But as I said yesterday, if they are a special needs child or on an IEP, they are golden and nothing can be done. A bully can't operate without parental support. Those are the parents that when they get called from the school, they say "Don't bother me with nit-picky things"

WorriedAboutOurFuture
16
Points
WorriedAboutOurFuture 05/21/09 - 09:38 pm
0
0
A lawsuit isn't frivilous

A lawsuit isn't frivilous when it is related to someone's death due to preventable circumstances, especially the death of a child. Somebody who should have been paying attention really missed it with this little boy.

shel2u
0
Points
shel2u 05/22/09 - 04:31 am
0
0
The responsibility still lies

The responsibility still lies with the parent. Why would you continue to send your child to school day after day knowing you are feeding him to the wolves? Keep your child out of school and show up at the county BOE and demand something be done. At minimum, show up at the school with police and point out the offenders. Do something to protect your child. Do NOT depend on government workers to do that for you. Obviously, it will never turn out good. This is such a sad story.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Augusta's ties to Liberia date back to 1836

Richmond County’s ties to West Africa date back to the 1830s, when plantation owner Richard Tubman wrote in his will that his slaves were to be offered freedom. More recently, Augustans have ...
Search Augusta jobs