Finally. DeKalb County, Georgia school administrators begin their internal review on the months of relentless harassment and anti-gay bullying that drove 11-year-old Jaheem Herrera to suicide, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Superintendent Crawford Lewis [is] meeting with the boy’s principal "to make sure something like this never happens again."
Jaheem’s mother, Masika Bermudez, said she had complained to school officials about the bullying and taunts Jaheem endured. On one occasion, Jaheem was choked in the bathroom. "If she came one time, that should have been sufficient," Lewis said.
Administrators are now piecing together a timeline that documents how often Bermudez met with school officials, and what they did to follow up. The system’s review, Lewis said, will coincide with talks that DeKalb District Attorney Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming will hold with parents and educators involved in the case. The system will cooperate fully, Lewis said.
The school system's timeline will do more than "coincide" with the District Attorney's investigation. It most likely was ordered by the DA as a preliminary step in the almost certain civil litigation and likely criminal investigation to result from their inaction.
Meanwhile, progressive and LGBT inclusive members of Atlanta's faith community speak out against the bullying and anti-gay epithets that drove little Jaheem to take his own life. Rev. Dennis Meredith, the pastor of the well-known LGBT inclusive Tabernacle Baptist Church: "This is not just a problem that was perpetrated from the bullies that harassed and taunted the young man, but this is a cultural problem. It represents how people feel in our culture towards people who are different."
AFTER THE JUMP, video of Rev. Meredith.
"The truth of the matter is that it did not have to happen and it should not have happened. If there were certain adverse issues in our culture to people who are different-and the fact that we don't as a culture celebrate diversity and differences-we would not have had this particular incident," Rev. Meredith said.
Herrera's suicide comes two weeks after the suicide of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, an 11-year-old Massachusetts boy who also suffered taunts that he was gay, feminine and "talked funny." Marissa Pendermine, the assistant Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church Atlanta adds: "We have made it acceptable to hate some people. The bullying that both Jaheem Herrera and Carl Joseph Walker Hoover experienced was particular to the perception of who they were or who they were growing up to be."
Atlanta-based blogger and activist Darian Aaron was at the press conference: "Noticeably absent were Atlanta's mega pastors and anti-gay crusaders Bishop Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar. I guess calls for social justice have to take a back seat to million dollar bank accounts, expensive sports cars, and anti-gay demonstrations."