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Teen’s Drowning Suicide Blamed on School

MANHATTAN (CN) - The mother of a girl who drowned herself in the Hudson River after a teacher accused her of cheating wants damages from New York City.

Omotayo Adeoye, 17, jumped into the river to her death on May 29, 2014, sometime after she made an early exit from her German class at the High School for Math, Science and Engineering, according to a report by the New York City Public School District's special commissioner of investigation.

The July 21 report says Adeoye left her belongings at her desk to use the bathroom at about 2 p.m., with five minutes left to go in the period, but never returned.

In addition to Adeoye's classmates, the investigator interviewed principal Crystal Bonds but said two teachers, Eva Malikova and Benjamin Zara, declined through their attorneys to be interviewed.

As relayed to the investigator by Bonds, Malikova had confiscated Adeoye's cellphone because the girl had been using it to cheat on a practice test. Malikova apparently brought the phone to Zara's neighboring classroom.

The investigator also quoted disturbing messages that Adeoye had scribbled onto her test paper.

On the back of the exam, Adeoye wrote: "I just want to go away forever on the bottom of the river."

"What am I doing?" a note on the front of the exam said. "Why am I doing it? This is not me? I'm losing my hard earned credibility for some meaningless quiz. I am better than this. This is beyond stupid."

Adeoye's mother Mounserat sued the city, as well as its the Department of Education and police department, on Monday for negligence in New York County Supreme Court.

She claims that the defendants "obtained the suicide note before the decedent left the school." No teacher or school official is named as a defendant.

The complaint also makes reference to Adeoye's "prior psychological history," which included a "prior suicide attempt."

Adeoye's mother says the defendants were responsible for "deliberately humiliating, scaring and embarrassing the plaintiff's decedent in front of her classmates."

The report notes that Zara had instructed Malikova to detain Adeoye after class. When Malikova could not find Adeoye in the bathroom, the principal placed the school on a "soft lock down," according to the report.

The district's investigation "did not find any misconduct or wrongdoing committed by a Department of Education employee," Deputy Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District Regina Loughran concluded.

Adeoye's mother nevertheless says her daughter killed herself because of "academic pressure." She says she wanted to pull her daughter from the school but was reassured her daughter would get "academic help and psychological help as well as heightened supervision."

A representative at the New York City Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The girl's mother is represented by Jonathan O. Michaels with Pena & Kahn PLLC.

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