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Bronx Teen Kills Herself After Being Bullied And Sexually Assaulted

A 15-year-old honor student jumped 34 stories to her death last February after being bullied and sexually assaulted by two boys at school. Now, her parents are suing the City of New York and the New York City Department of Education due to “their negligence, carelessness, recklessness, and unlawfulness.”

Mya Vizcarrondo-Rios began attending Harry S. Truman High School in The Bronx, in September 2017 where it's reported the teen was bullied "almost daily" and as a result, developed "severe emotional pain and depression."

Prior to the bullying, Mya was an honor student who had perfect attendance. The lawsuit outlines she began missing school in late 2017 because of the bullying, which included harassment, body shaming, physical and verbal abuse.

Mya's attendance resulted in the school principal and the dean informing her parents she would have to sign into each class. The lawsuit alleges the principal and dean never told the parents what led to Mya absence.

“The tragic circumstances surrounding my client's death could have been prevented,” said John Scola, the parents’ attorney, in a statement. “We hope that this case will cause the New York City Department of Education to reevaluate their policies and properly train their employees on issues related to bullying so that no student feels so hopeless they believe suicide is the answer."

On Feb. 27, the lawsuit states Mya's counselor went to one of her gym classes after Mya's friend told her about her problems. The counselor then "assessed [Mya] for any signs of physical or verbal abuse," according to the lawsuit, which says that "[f]ollowing this conversation...the guidance counselor, despite saying she would do so in [Mya's] guidance review card, again failed to notify [Mya's parents] that [Mya] was having problems at school so they could look out for any harm [Mya] could cause herself including but in no way limited to acting on suicidal ideations."

The next morning, after reportedly participating in a school show in the auditorium, Mya was taken into the back of the auditorium by two boys where she was sexually assaulted. Mya then reportedly left school early that day after being made fun of and jumped off the roof of her apartment building.

"If the representation that [Mya] was required to sign in at each class were true, her absence would have triggered a notification of the parents or a search as to [Mya's] whereabouts and prevented her death," the lawsuit says.

A Go Fund Me has been set up to pay for Mya's funeral costs.

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Black Texas Teen Barred From Graduation Because Of His Dreadlocks

A black Texas teen was suspended and is barred from graduation because of his dreadlocks, NBC News reports. DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, has to cut his hair if he wants to walk the graduation stage.

DeAndre, whose family hales from Trinidad, has had locks for several years, gets A’s and B’s in school, and wears his hair in compliance with the school’s dress code, his mother, Sandy Arnold, told Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC. “The dress code is [hair] off the shoulders above the earlobes and out of the eyes,” she explained.

The school district allegedly changed the dress code around Christmas of last year. According to the latest Barbers Hill Student Handbook, hair must be “clean and well groomed.” Students are not allowed to cover their heads, dye their hair, or wear “geometric or unusual patterns (such as Mohawks and Faux hawks) shaved or cut in the hair.” For male students, hair can’t fall below the eyebrows or earlobes and must not extend “below the top of a T-shirt collar.”Beards, goatees and mustaches are also not allowed.

DeAndre’s mother said that she reached out to board members and the superintendent to rectify the issue but with no luck.

“They say that even [when] my hair is up if it were down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in school,” said DeAndre.

The teen proudly rock his dreadlocks because the hairstyle connects him to Trinidadian culture. “I really like that part of Trinidadian culture. I really embrace that.”

Barbers Hill Independent School District released a statement noting that the district enforces a “community supported hair length policy” that has been in place “for decades.” The statement adds, “Barber Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”

The teenager's story is similar to that of a 6-year-old boy in Texas whose school also wanted him to cut off his dreadlocks. DeAndre's mother said her son won’t be getting a hair cut. “This is a pat of who he is. So [we're] absolutely not going to cut his hair.”

See more in the video above.

 

 

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Tashonna Ward: 25-Year-Old Woman Dies After Waiting Hours In ER

The family of the 25-year-old Wisconsin woman are seeking answers following her tragic death earlier in the month. Tashonna Ward, a daycare worker whose newborn daughter died last year, passed away after waiting nearly three hours in the emergency room at Wisconsin's Froedtert Hospital where she sought treatment for chest pains and shortness of breath.

Ward checked into the ER at 4:58 p.m on Jan. 2, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. During the wait, hospital staff checked Ward’s heartbeat and she underwent an x-ray, the latter of which showed that she had an enlarged heart.

She was sent back to the waiting room.

"I been here since 4:30 something for shortness of breath, and chest pains for them to just say it’s a two to SIX hour wait to see a [doctor]. Like that is really f***ing ridiculous,” Ward reportedly wrote on Facebook according to NBC News.

Ward left Froedtert to go to another hospital at around 7:30 p.m., but never made it. She collapsed soon after and was rushed back to Froedtert where she was pronounced dead.

“How can you triage someone with shortness of breath and chest pain, and stick them in the lobby?" Ward’s cousin, Andrea Ward, said according to the Journal Sentinel. Andrea launched a Go Fund Me  account to raise funds for her cousin’s funeral.

A rep for Froedtert expressed condolences over Ward's death . “The family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy,” a rep for the hospital said in a statement. “We cannot comment further at this time.”

Ward had previously been told that she developed an enlarged heart during her pregnancy. Her baby died last March after the baby’s umbilical chord wrapped around the its neck.

Although heart disease is the leading cause of death among men women in the U.S., the risks are even higher for black women. According to 2017 statistics, nearly half of black women over the age of 20 battle some type of heart disease.

Black women are also at higher risk of dying from pregnancy complications. While there are several variables at play (like a lack of access to proper health care), the larger issue is that black women are often “undervalued,” noted Dr. Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in an interview with the American Heart Association.

“[Black women] are not monitored as carefully as white women are,” said Langer. “When they do present with symptoms, they are often dismissed.”

Ward’s family are reportedly scheduled to meet with the hospital next week. The hospital has received numerous online complaints over the years, many of which involve billing issues but also treatment and long wait periods.

A Yelp review  posted last year warned patients not to believe the 23-minute wait time touted at the hospital. The woman and her ailing child left the hospital after waiting for six hours “without being evaluated other than a [five-minute] ‘triage.’”

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Atatiana Jefferson’s Mother Dies In House Where Daughter Was Killed

Yolanda Carr, the mother of Atatiana Jefferson, died in the same house where a Texas cop killed her daughter. A family lawyer announced Carr’s passing on Thursday (Jan. 9).

“We just learned Yolanda Carr, the mother of #AtatianaJefferson, passed away in her home early Thursday morning,” attorney S. Lee Merritt tweeted adding that Jefferson, 28, was killed by a Fort Worth officer “while serving as the caregiver for Ms. Carr who had recently taken ill.”

The family has been left “devastated” by the loss. Further details surrounding Carr's death were unavailable at press time.

“This is why we call police brutality genocide,” Merritt tweeted. “It is akin to a public lynching. It impacts the entire community. It is domestic terrorism under the color of state authority.”

Yolanda’s family is devastated. This is why we call police brutality genocide. It is akin to a public lynching. It impacts the entire community. It is domestic terrorism under the color of state authority. https://t.co/KyRtR7aG6X

— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 10, 2020

Jefferson, who would've celebrated her 29th birthday this past Thanksgiving, was killed last October by Ft. Worth Sheriff's deputy Aaron Dean. Dean shot Jefferson through the window of her home while she was playing video games with her nephew. Police were responding to a neighbor’s call about a door being open at the location when Dean opened fire on Jefferson. Dean resigned from the department after the fatal shooting. He has since been charged with murder.

A month after Jefferson was killed, her father Marquise Jefferson died of a heart attack, which his spokesperson said was a result of the death of his only child. “I can only sum it up as a broken heart,” said Bruce Carter. “He had to go through so much just to get through the services as a father, and continually doing good to make sure that who he was in their relationship was something he could honor.”

Carr, who was hospitalized after Jefferson was killed, responded to Dean's murder charge in an emotional video recorded from her hospital bed. “We’re going to miss her this Christmas, but I’m so glad that they finally indicted that man on murder because he murdered my baby in my home,” Carr said. “She wasn’t doing anything wrong. My thought was 'Thank you Jesus,' even though I know we have a long way to go at least we got the charge on him.”

 

Watch Carr's full message below.

The mother of #AtatianaJefferson has died in her home. This is her let public statement from her hospital bed after learning of Aaron Dean’s indictment on the charge of murder. pic.twitter.com/UQg00Te48v

— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) January 9, 2020

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