Suit links suicide to school bullying

Nov. 30, 2011 at 6:06 PM
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FISHERS, Ind., Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The mother of a 14-year-old Indiana high school student who committed suicide has sued the school district, claiming it failed to prevent bullying.

The suit alleges repeated bullying and harassment led Jamarcus Bell, a freshman at Hamilton Southeastern High School in suburban Indianapolis, to hang himself Oct. 20, 2010, at his home in Fishers, Ind., The Indianapolis Star reported Tuesday.

The suit, which seeks unspecified punitive damages, also alleges Hamilton Southeastern Schools deprived Jamarcus of his rights under federal non-discrimination laws. The suit says he was singled out

because of "his race, perceived homosexuality and emotional disability."

Jamarcus had been targeted for years, and students threw pieces of metal at him in welding class and uttered anti-gay slurs, the suit said.

Jason Delk, an attorney for Jamarcus' mother, Natalie Moore, said the district should have done more to stop the bullying.

"Jamarcus was a child in need of educational services, certain protections," Delk said. "They failed him in that regard. They continued to throw him amongst the wolves, the student population."

The law, filed Nov. 21 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, says school officials knew or should have known what the boy endured but took no action.

He had attempted suicide before, in the seventh grade, when he was found hanging from a noose in a janitor's closet, which should have been a clear sign he was having trouble, the suit said.

The Star said Hamilton Southeastern officials declined to comment on the suit, and spokeswoman Marianna Richards said the district would "present its position in court."

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