WASHINGTON - Emotions erupted Thursday night as parents met with a DC boarding school for the first time after a girl was found dead on campus from an apparent suicide.
In the early morning hours on Tuesday, 12-year-old Stormiyah Jackson's body was found in her dorm at the SEED School in Southeast D.C.
Thursday’s meeting was the first time parents had heard from the school since the tragedy. Media was not allowed inside, but angry parents talked to FOX 5 as they left. They said tensions were high in the meeting, so much that, in fact, police were called in to deescalate the situation.
Hundreds of parents attended the meeting to get answers from the school about what happened and what would be done moving forward to keep the students who live on campus during the week, safe.
Family members of they young student who committed suicide at Seed School, say they weren't invited to tonight's meeting. Her aunt was furious outside the school, saying mother wasn't invited. People stormed out, Police went in. Meeting appears to be over. @fox5dc pic.twitter.com/p6PgE2uEiU— Van Applegate (@vbagate) January 26, 2018
But many parents told FOX 5 they left with no answers about real, fundamental policy changes.
“The one thing he said was a script,” said Kimberly Brent, who decided on Thursday to remove her grandson from SEED. “It’s the same thing that we’ve all gotten. I have a grandson who’s been beat up here, recently. And it’s the administration. It’s not the educators. It’s the administration. It’s the policies. It’s the procedures.”
Prior to Stormiyah’s death, Brent lodged formal complaints against SEED with the DC Public Charter School Board as well as DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office. Brent said she received no response until after the 12-year-old was found dead Tuesday.
“The academic side is really good [in my opinion],” said Sirraya Gant, whose son attended SEED. “It’s the side of the residential part. The children are not being watched with the resident advisors. That’s the part that was the problem when my son was here.”
“I personally, as a parent of a daughter who was bullied numerous amounts of times, I do not feel like their tactics work,” added Christina Byrd, in reference to how SEED handles bullying issues that are reported. “I truly feel like [Stormiyah] would be here today as opposed to us having a meeting about her now.”
Stormiyah’s mother, Patricia Denson, said no one notified her of Thursday’s meeting.
“Nobody here at the school, came to my aunt’s house,” said Stormiyah’s cousin as she addressed the administration. “Was she called the right way? No. Now we want to say, ‘yes, the school could have made a better decision.’ If they knew something it should have been brought to the parent’s attention a long time ago. Now that it’s done and over with, what can we do now?”
Anger and grief from her and other parents spilled into the streets outside the school as parents yelled at one another and at school administrators.
FOX 5 reached out to SEED requesting an interview in reaction to parent allegations. They sent the following statement via email:
“This evening we came together as a community. It was a necessary first step toward healing. We will continue to grieve and support each other through this difficult time.”
Prior to Thursday’s meeting, at least six parents reported they pulled their children from SEED after alleged instances of bullying, burning and sexual assault. Parents who FOX 5 spoke to say the children are not monitored in their dorms overnight and security cameras in at least one part of the campus don’t work.
In response to parental claims that SEED hasn’t done enough to protect their children, the school 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.”