Stormiyah died about a month after she told school psychologists she “didn’t want to live anymore” and was deemed a “low-level suicide threat,” according to the suit. She had previously attempted suicide, the suit says, and “her grades were suffering and she was getting into trouble frequently.”
SEED’s principal and other administrators were told of the assessment, the suit says, but Stormiyah’s parents were not told until after her death. The suit also alleges that school psychologists at SEED were not licensed in the District or trained in suicide prevention, a violation of D.C. law.
The suit, which seeks $5 million in damages, asserts that Stormiyah — who “bullied others” and “was bullied by others” — met “many of the at-risk factors for suicide” listed in a D.C. Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
“It was foreseeable that Stormiyah would commit suicide,” the suit says.
In a statement Friday evening, a school spokesman said: “The passing of our scholar Stormiyah Denson-Jackson was a terrible tragedy first and foremost for her family, and for the entire SEED community. Based on the advice of our counsel, we are not able to comment further at this time.”
SEED’s website says it is “the nation’s first public, charter, college-preparatory boarding school,” with 370 students in sixth through 12th grades. Opened in 1998, it requires students to live in dormitories Sunday through Friday, according to the suit.
The D.C. Public Charter School Board in 2017 forced SEED to shutter its middle school because of low academic performance. The school has not enrolled new middle school students since then and will close entirely at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.
“The SEED School created a special relationship which requires the SEED School to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of Stormiyah, including implementing measures to address students with mental health needs,” the suit said. “The SEED School grossly breached this duty resulting in the tragic and unnecessary death of a 12-year-old girl.”
Perry Stein contributed to this report.