A new report from the DeKalb County School System says that Jaheem Herrera, the 11-year-old bullycide victim, was not taunted and bullied at his elementary school, despite reports from his mother and the parents of classmates.
In fact, the report from retired judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore, hired by the school system to produce the report, also says that despite repeated use of the word “gay” at the school, students didn’t use the word as a slur.
“Following spring break, Jaheem came to school with a pink book bag, and there was some evidence from the students that the students said ‘that’s gay,’ speaking of the book bag,” Moore said. “Now with these students we asked them, ‘Well, what does gay mean?’ They said ‘gay means happy,’ and this is many of the students.”
Moore said that few students told investigators that they knew that gay is slang for homosexuals.
“But I would say that the term ‘gay’ did not have a sexual connotation for the most part. The children use ‘gay’ for anything and everything, the clothing is gay, the gesture is gay, what they say is gay, and that is a term they use,” she said. “Some students did tell us they had asked their teacher what gay meant and their teachers are the ones who told them gay means happy.”
The report outraged some parents.
More than a dozen family members and supporters came to hear Moore make her presentation. Their reaction was swift and harsh.
The judge’s conclusion “makes her [Moore] a liar,” said Dunaire parent Monique McMiller, who complained that her son was bullied at the school last year and that Moore interviewed him for her report. “To come to a conclusion there’s no bullying, to drag that family underneath like that, is embarrassing.”
Police arrested two men on criminal trespass and obstruction charges: Derrick Boazman, a former Atlanta city councilman, and a man identified as Abdullah Jihad. It was not clear how either man is affiliated with the family.
The family’s lawyer last week filed an intent to sue the school system for “a substantial amount,” alleging negligence by Dunaire school officials.