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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Boy's death at school ruled suicide--Aquan Lewis, Chicago

February 5, 2009
Staff Reporters

The state's child welfare agency is investigating neglect allegations against an Evanston school where a 10-year-old boy died after being found hanging in a bathroom stall, officials said.

Fifth-grader Aquan Lewis of Skokie was found unresponsive at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Oakton Elementary, 436 Ridge Ave. in the north suburb. He died at Children's Memorial Hospital at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Aquan told a teacher he planned to kill himself, and the teacher may also have shared the boy's comments with another staff member, sources told the Sun-Times. One of the sources charged that school personnel failed to take the threat seriously.

According to a law enforcement report, Aquan had been scolded by school staff earlier Tuesday.
"I just can't talk right now," Aquan's tearful mother, Angel Marshall, 26, told reporters Wednesday.

Evanston police and Evanston/Skokie School District 65 officials declined to provide details about the death, citing a police investigation. "It appears this is an isolated incident involving one student," District 65 Supt. Hardy Murphy said.

Aquan's family hired a lawyer, saying they had received scant details and had concerns over why the boy hadn't been in a gym class.

School officials told his mother he had been in line for gym but apparently slipped away unnoticed.

Neglect allegations were called in to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services against the school in connection with the death, DCFS spokesman Jimmie Whitelow confirmed.
"The question I think everyone is struggling with is where he made his departure from gym class to the bathroom," Murphy said.

The Cook County medical examiner's office ruled the death a suicide by hanging.

"As she sat there through the night and into the morning as her son lay dying, his mother kept asking, 'How did this happen?' " said Larry Rogers, the lawyer for Angel Marshall. "How is a boy out of a classroom on his own, unsupervised, and hanging on a hook for that duration?"
How high was this hook? How does a 10 year-old get himself hiked up there to hang himself? Was it low and he just sat down? Seems like more info than a boy that age should know, as far as "how-to" commit suicide. This stinks of bullying to me.

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