Parents sue CPS over teen’s suicide

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The parents of a CPS teen who committed suicide this Spring are suing the district and school board and accuse them of not following it’s bullying prevention guidelines.

12-year-old McKenzie Philpot was a 6th grader at Peirce School of International Studies on Chicago’s North Side when she took her own life on May 8th of this year.

Messages McKenzie left on Facebook and Twitter point to bullying as the reason the 12 year-old no longer felt safe.

Bob Bingle of the Corboy and Demetrio Law Firm represents McKenzie’s parents and says the bullying went on for a year- and- a- half.

“A couple girls in particular, for instance, in a gym class, (would run) straight at her with a frozen water bottle and hitting her,” Bingle says. “There was incidents involving chasing her from the school yard and putting her face up against a fence.”

McKenzie’s parents filed a lawsuit, naming the Chicago Public School District and its board in the wrongful death of the 6th grader.

Her parents feel as if the school and CPS didn’t follow its own guidelines to investigate and prevent bullying in McKenzie’s case.

CPS launched its own investigation following McKenzie’s death in May. That investigation wrapped in September, when CPS released a statement saying, “…there was no credible evidence of bullying. CPS continues to work with the Peirce school community to ensure a safe learning environment for its students.”

McKenzie’s parents are seeking no less than $50,000 in damages.

CPS would not comment further on this case, because of pending litigation.

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32 comments

    • Alex

      Thank you for bringing out the biggest problem, her parents and the bullys parents. I was the kid who beat the bullys up on behalf of the helpless kids they tormented. Then I’d tell them, you either need to fight back or get use to people treating you bad. I don’t see why schools are beng held responsible, if a teacher sees it, yes report it and the bully should be expelled, but out side that, this isnt’ the schools problem.

  • Marcella Maynard Thomason

    I won’t go as far as saying the school is responsible, but I do believe adults in these institutions of education either are not watching/paying attention or just don’t care what is happening on campus’. As a 20+ year volunteer in classrooms in public schools, I have witnessed (and addressed hundreds of instances of “bullying”) in this same time I have seen ONE member of faculty address a situation! EVERY instance should be met with a trip to the office and a call to a guardian! Repeat offenses should be met with suspensions, and severe or habitual offenders should be expelled AND turned over to Child Protective Services as an open case! Bully is just another word for abuser! The bullied and the bullier need help. Oh and IMO faculty who do not address offenses should be treated as the student is… trip to office (write uo) repeat offenses suspension (with out pay) and egregious or habitual offenders expelled (terminated)! Schools should lose portions of public funding for not seriously addressing the issues (and I do not mean an “anti-bulling campaign). oh and it strikes me funny that the other comments are made by people called Nazi and Dick!

    • Kate Young

      It has never been natural to me or millions of other people, so please speak for yourself. I can only think you must be a bully and think it is your job to ‘toughen people up’. Asshat.

    • Required Field

      Those who bully are even weaker because they can only function with violence. this hides their weak mind, weak hearts and lack of real guts. Those that support them show their weak minds, weak hearts and complete lack of class.

  • Gina

    Are you freaking kidding me! There is kidding around and then there is physically hurting someone on a daily basis. Bullying is wrong no matter how you word. Those that think it’s natural are probably bullied people before. You think it’s funny but not to that kid or the adult your making fun of. If we had not changed schools when I was a kid that little girl might have been me. And it’s not just public schools. Mine was a Catholic school.

  • Deb

    I was bullied in high school and was threatened with death just because I had long blond hair this was over 40 years ago nothing was done the CPS ‘s still haven’t changed, this caused me to quit school I did go on to get my GED and go to college but missed out on a lot not graduating because of abusing students that were basically more protected than I,how sad this girl felt she had no choice but to take her life and how sad the school system still ignores this problem.

  • Gwen

    Anyone who is OK with bullying is nothing but a bully themselves. Sure, kids will be kids & there will always be teasing, etc. But there comes a point where it’s gone too far. If the parents reached out to the school and the school did nothing about it, then yes, the school is at fault. The school should have talked to the bullies’ parents, disciplined the bullies, they should have done SOMETHING to stop it. Sometimes the administration doesn’t want to deal with the bullies because their parents are just as bad as they are. They apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. CPS is supposed to be zero tolerance when it comes to bullying…look like they turned a blind eye here.

  • disgusted

    Yep gina , with his sarcastic comment , he proved you are right! Marcella Maynard Thomason’s Estranged Husband is a bully. Hhhmm could that be why he’s her estranged husband?

  • Joanna

    I honestly feel sorry for the ones that think it’s ok to bully a 12 year old little girl. I guess if its not your kid its ok right? Well my sympathy goes out to that little girl’s family.

  • Karen

    I was constantly bullied in 1966 at McCutchen Grammar School in Chicago by ROSEMARY PERINI. It was a horrific time in my childhood. I dreaded going to school every day. It amazes me that bullying continues in this day and age. What the hell is wrong with these bullies’ parents? I was taught to do unto others as they would do unto you. It was so bad that even back then, suicide went through my mind.

  • Jess

    I was bullied some in high school but it did not make me want to kill myself!! These kids who take their lives obviously have trouble at home as well and major insecurity issues.

  • Amanda

    I am amazed at the lack of compassion some of you have. Blame the parents of the bullied child?? Why not blame the kids who did the bullying and their parents? Just because you were bullied and it did not affect you, does not mean that it is not devastating to another child. Who are you to say how that child should feel? Are you really that insensitive? I hope that one day when your children or grandchildren are bullied and feel that they have no option but to leave this world that someone shows you more empathy than you have shown in your ignorant posts.

  • Melanie

    I completely understand why the parents have chosen to sue the school. My family has personally dealt with severe bullying not only to my daughter but the bullies have included my family in their terrorism. To have the school and police do nothing but keep adding everything they do to the long ridiculous file. Most of her bullies are adults as well and she has been dealing with it for four years now. We have dealt with harassment, threats, jumping, 3x our property has been vandalized, cyber bullied along with numerous times of being told for her to kill herself. Recently her purse was stolen at a school function to be found empty with a note telling her to kill herself and other things to have nothing done once again then both our cars damaged while in parking lots with in a months time to still have nothing done. I want to make this clear this all started when she was 14 and some of them were 18 then and yes students now she is 17 and still dealing with them. Some say stand up to the bully well when she is an athlete she is not allowed or she is off the team. Sadly her school hires bullies as well. So yes I can completely understand why one would sue the school let alone the police dept because when you do everything we are taught to do and they do nothing and a young life ends because they didn’t do their job to me they are just as bad as the bullies. They all might as well be called murderers because they helped kill someone!

  • Laura Wojtwoicz

    Everyone who is against this girl killing herself….STOP!!! You guys are just as guilty. I was teased from 4th grade through 8th grade. Some people can’t deal with it. I was lucky to not be able to hear some of the stuff kids said to me—I am partially deaf. Now-a-days—bullying is even worst as I read through complaints. I do not know what the parents of this girl did to prevent the bullying….nothing in this article has mentioned it. If the parents did talk to the school, it should have been followed-through with steps to prevent it, and so recorded…..including talking with the bully’s parents, and a psychologist to help the victim and other ways to deal with it. I do not see any of this stuff mentioned in this article. I will not assume and blame on others….it will all be heard in court. I do wish that parents in this situation would sue for change, and succeed, instead of money. They would get more gratifications knowing they will be helping others in similar circumstances.

  • Melody

    Amanda, what I’m amazed at is the fact that these parents think suing is right. and we wonder why are schools have no money to actually educate our children. Geez

    • Required Field

      The parents are absolutely right to sue. Had the school administration done their job fairly and correctly the bullying would have stopped and this ended prior to a death. They are no different than a physician or clinician who commits malpractice. There are no questions when a physician gets sued when someone dies. Well these administrators failed to protect this child and she’s now deceased because of the failure. time to spend less money on football and more on the kids who can’t toss a ball. And it’s time for administrators to remember they are educators first and get out of the office and quit hiding from the kids.

  • Marisa

    It is largely the schools fault usually. Far too many schools turn a blind eye to bullying. Not every school but many do and there are many ways for teachers to make school a safe learning environment and sadly few schools implement them. My elementary school had a terrible bullying problem and it was so bad I didn’t realize for years that it was happening because it started in Kindergarten and I just thought it was normal. I was constantly told I was stupid by classmates and every time we would take a test the students would compare scores and tease anyone who did badly. They did this in front of my teachers who the majority of them just turned a blind eye to it. I truly believed I was stupid, I had no self confidence. 4th grade was when things got really bad the kids all formed into cliques and the girl in the head clique deemed that no one could hang out with me or they would also be ostracized. All my friends left me and I could only hang out with the two other ostracized kids. I cried every single day and was teased everyday for crying or being stupid or too short. Groups of kids would gang up on me on the playground. I had constant thoughts about suicide and became very withdrawn. Many of the nicest kids left the school because it was too hostile. My 4th grade teacher tried her best to address the bullying issue but without the principal or other teachers helping she was making little progress. But our Vice Principal was always watching and learning. She did her best to help but wasn’t able to do much. A few years after I graduated she became the Principal and then she had the power to affect real change, she had monthly anti-bullying school assemblies and she made certain that teachers had the tools to properly address bullying in the classroom, she really turned the school around. People I’ve talked to after the anti-bullying policies were implemented told me the school had very little issue with bullying anymore.

    I agree it’s the parents job to deal with it as well but many parents just won’t even believe or accept that their children are bullies. They feel like they know their children because their children usually behave in front of them but once their children are in the school they are completely different. Children who bully are usually children who feel ignored or want to feel powerful because they feel powerless. Bullies almost always are hurting children but they need to be taught that their are healthier ways to deal with their anger, etc… than to hurt other people. It’s the job of the teachers to be on the look out for bullying and to contact parents when they witness it as well as to address the issue in class.