BALTIMORE (CN) - A new student in elementary school who was bullied by classmates hanged himself in class and his teacher "grabbed her phone and began taking pictures" and didn't help him down until she said, "'Now that's the picture I want,'" the boy's grandmother claims in City Court.
Renola Dowler sued the Baltimore City Public School System and its CEO, the Leith Walk Elementary School, its principal and her grandson's teacher, identified in the complaint as "Ms. Stinger."
Dowler says her grandson, J.E., is a special-needs student with asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"On or about December 9 or 11, 2009, at approximately 9:00 a.m., [J.E.] was in special needs class at Leith Walk, along with his classmates. This was the third day that he was in the class," according to the complaint.
"Jeremiah's teacher at the time was defendant Ms. Stinger.
"No other teachers or teacher's aide(s) were in the classroom during the time the incident occurred.
"While working with other students in the class, plaintiff [J.E.] informed defendant Ms. Stinger that other students in the class were bullying him.
"Defendant Ms. Stinger ignored plaintiff [J.E.'s] complaint and continued to teach the class. [J.E.] once again complained and was once again ignored.
"After becoming extremely frustrated and upset with the kids bullying him and the teacher ignoring his request for assistance, the plaintiff commented to Ms. Stinger that he was going to hurt himself.
"Plaintiff [J.E.] proceeded to the front of the class, stood on a chair, hung a vest on the hook of the door and tied the other end of the coat around his neck.
"Plaintiff then kicked the chair from under his feet and dangled in the air from the coat hook in front of the class.
"Defendant Ms. Stinger grabbed her phone and began taking pictures of plaintiff [J.E.] while he was hanging in front of the class.
"Plaintiff [J.E.] started gasping for air. After defendant Ms. Stinger stated 'Now that's the picture I want,' she decided to place the chair back under plaintiff [J.E.'s] feet and stop him from hanging on the coat hook."
The boy's grandmother says that as he was being taken to the hospital, she received a call from the school and when she arrived, "she was shown a picture of the plaintiff [J.E.] hanging from his coat."
She says her grandson was hospitalized for a week, and then transferred to another school.
Dowler and her grandson seek $10 million for gross negligence.
They are represented by Karl-Henri Gauvin.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.