WASHINGTON - One day after a young girl was found dead from apparent suicide at a D.C. boarding school campus, more parents are coming forward. They say bullying is rampant at the SEED School of Washington D.C. and that the school doesn’t do enough to keep students safe.
The circumstances behind 12-year-old Stormiyah Denson-Jackson’s death remain under investigation. But those closest to her insist bullying did not lead Stormiyah to take her life. Stormiyah’s mother Patricia Denson tells FOX 5 she has retained a lawyer.
FOX 5 has heard from six other parents who all say they pulled their children from the boarding school out of concern for their safety. They believe students are not supervised enough, which opens the door to dangerous circumstances.
One woman who did not want to be identified says her daughter reported multiple incidents of bullying in the fall of 2017. She eventually ran away from the school. When her mother asked SEED for security camera footage, she learned it was not available.
“Cameras on the side of the building that face the basketball court were not working,” she explained. “That’s my issue. You say you saw my daughter here and now she is nowhere to be found and you don’t know which way she went.”
Shay Brown says her son sustained second-degree burns after his roommates burned him with a hot iron. The incident happened in the early morning hours in October 2017. But Brown is especially concerned about overnight supervision.
“They are not checking up on them enough at night,” she said. “I have asked Kayden, ‘Are they coming in your room? Do staff check on you guys?’ Because I know boys. I know they like to play around and run the halls and stuff. He told me ‘No, mom. No one comes in our room after 12 o’clock. They’re asleep.’”
After her son was burned, Brown filed a police report. The boys responsible were expelled and she received an incident report from the school. But this came after her son reported bullying incidents multiple times in the weeks prior – for which, Brown says no action was taken.
Mami Buxton told FOX 5 she pulled her son out of SEED earlier in January after an alleged sexual assault incident.
“I know firsthand what it’s like for [students], considering the situation with my own son and how he feels about how they operate when it comes to situations as far as bullying is concerned,” added Buxton. “He feels no one is listening and no one is helping.”
After two years of reporting bullying, Buxton says her son was sexually assaulted by another student. She filed a police report the day it happened, but has not received a resolution from the school after more than two weeks, an in-person meeting and several emails. Buxton has also requested written documentation of each bullying incident reported by her son – something required and dictated by SEED’s academic policies handbook. She says they have yet to provide her with the reports.
In response to Buxton’s allegations, SEED released the following statement:
“The safety and security of our students is our top priority, and we have stringent procedures in place to protect our students. Any time an incident is reported, we take all precautions to immediately ensure the students' safety. We then launch a thorough internal investigation, involving the parents of the involved students throughout the process. Our protocols are designed to protect not only our students' and families' safety, but their confidentiality. We are constantly reviewing these protocols in order to strengthen them wherever possible.”
The campus of the SEED School of Washington D.C. remains closed and will reopen Monday.