Chicago Public Schools said it is conducting an investigation after an activist’s videos of a hospitalized fourth-grader went viral this week, and his mother blamed bullying at school.
The family said in the video that the boy attempted to take his own life.
The student attends Carter G. Woodson Elementary, a 330-student school in Bronzeville. His mother said in the videos that he is a special education student and that bullying happened at the school.
“This is a horrible tragedy, and the thoughts and prayers of the Chicago Public Schools community are with (the student) and his loved ones,” district spokesman Michael Passman said. “The allegations that have been made are highly concerning, and the district is conducting a full investigation.”
The district deployed crisis assistance resources to students and staff at Woodson.
Two videos detailing the family’s claims were posted on the account of Jedidiah Brown, an activist who is running for 7th ward alderman. The first shows the child at Comer Children’s Hospital at the University of Chicago, his mother standing beside him, as she explains repeated attempts to notify school leaders and district leaders about her son’s troubles with adults and fellow students at the school.
The second video shows a group of parents and community leaders on Friday morning approaching the school for a meeting and discussing the case outside as security officials decide whether to let them in. The mother and other family members eventually enter the school.
One of the parents who appears in the Friday morning video is Sequoia Williams, who said she transferred her son from Woodson to nearby Doolittle Elementary after he also experienced bullying. She told Chalkbeat she still had concerns at Doolittle about her son’s safety and whether the school was following his Individualized Education Program, a plan for children with disabilities.
She said she has filed concerns with several agencies, including Chicago Public Schools, the Department of Children and Family Services, and the state Board of Education. She appeared at a January meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, in part, to ask for higher staff ratios for students, particularly those with disabilities.
“These kids are not safe,” she told the board.