DeKalb Schools: Bullying didn’t prompt Herrera suicide


By MATT SCHAFER
Southern Voice
The DeKalb County School System has released a written report detailing the system’s findings on the suicide of Jaheem Herrera, an 11-year-old fifth grade student who hanged himself April 16.

The 300-plus page report was submitted to the school system by retired Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Moore on Aug. 14 and released to the public by the school system on Aug. 26. Moore was hired by the system to investigate Herrera’s death after his mother alleged her son’s suicide stemmed from constant bullying, including being called gay, at his school, Dunaire Elementary.

Moore made an oral presentation to the media and the members of the DeKalb County School board about the factors contributing to Herrera’s death at a press conference in May. At the time, she stated the school system was not at fault in Herrera’s death, including that he was not bullied and that when students called him “gay” they meant “happy.”

The new written report also details the criminal history of Norman Keene, who is described as the “significant other” of Masika Bermudez, Herrera’s mother. This information was not discussed at the May press conference. Keene pleaded guilty to battery and attempting to obstruct or hinder a person from making an emergency phone call.

According to Moore’s report, Keene became physically abusive toward Bermudez during an argument and attacked her in 2006 while they were living in Rockdale County. He pleaded guilty and received probation. The report also contained legal filings detailing Keene’s brushes with the law on weapons charges and assault charges going back to 1993. Full story.

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