Mother sues Polk County Board of Education after bullied daughter's suicide

Mother sues Polk County Board of Education after bullied daughter's suicide

May 29th, 2015 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

Angel Harris, center, and her son, Darrius, 5, watch balloons sail away Thursday at the memorial release in Copperhill, Tenn. Nearly 100 people came to the afternoon release to see black and blue colored balloons float away in remembrance of two deceased Copper Basin students that were victims of bullying in Polk County. Friend, Erica Cavender, left, and Angel's father, Haril Harris, second from left, focused on the sky.

Angel Harris, center, and her son, Darrius, 5,...

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

The mother of a Polk County 8th grader who took her own life has filed suit against the county's board of education, alleging that school officials were negligent in preventing what some have called "relentless bullying" that led Jazmine Harris to commit suicide two weeks ago.

Her suicide was the second by an allegedly bullied student at the Copper Basin Middle High School within the past three months. 

The lawsuit filed by the her mother, Angel Harris, claims the Polk County Board of Education "breached its duty of care owed to [Jazmine.]"

"Nothing, especially money will help us heal," Angel Harris said Thursday.  "But, this lawsuit helps me know that [Jazmine's] story can raise awareness and help people by bringing change."  

The lawsuit provides pages of detail about the bullying Jazmine allegedly endured, and cites several separate occasions when it claims Angel Harris complained about the harassment to school officials, who did not take adequate action to address the problem and protect her daughter.

Superintendent of Polk County Schools Dr. James Jones and Copper Basin High School Principal David Turner did not respond this afternoon to requests for comment.

Angel Harris' attorney, Roland Mumford, from Hendersonville, Tenn., has several lawsuits pending in court involving school systems' alleged negligence in cases of bullying, teacher assaults on students and discrimination of students with disabilities.

"It comes down to the deliberate indifference by school districts and leadership toward bullying," Mumford said.

See tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press for the full story.