Medical examiner: 12-year-old SEED School student's cause of death ruled suicide by hanging

- Three weeks after her death, police have released an update to the case of a student who died on the campus of a D.C. boarding school.

According to D.C. police, the medical examiner ruled Stormiyah Denson-Jackson’s death as “asphyxia due to hanging.” The method of her death has been ruled suicide.

Patricia Denson, Stormiyah’s mother, told FOX 5 she had not been informed of the report and had not been contacted by police since it happened.

Stormiyah’s body was found in her dorm in the early morning hours of Jan. 23. D.C. police told FOX 5 they closed the case of her death investigation on Jan. 24.

This update came as the SEED School of Washington D.C. held a safety meeting for parents Tuesday night, involving the District’s Office of Human Rights – amid widespread parent complaints.

At SEED, the school is trying to move forward.

Remnants of Stormiyah’s memorial outside the front gates are gone. That memorial now lives on at her mother’s house. 

The family’s front stoop is a solemn reminder of the 12-year-old girl described as “strong and happy.” 

“She was always confident about herself,” said Trinity Carter, an eighth grade student at SEED.

As of Tuesday, SEED’s dorms were still vacant. Students told FOX 5 they are scheduled to move back in next week, but do not feel ready.

“I don’t think we should go back to the dorm for the rest of the quarter or for next quarter,” explained Carter. “I think that everybody should just start fresh next year until the school improves with more staff and more counselors.” 

Stormiyah’s death prompted backlash from dozens of parents who have come forward to FOX 5, reporting issues of widespread bullying and lack of supervision at SEED. They claim the complaints are not properly being dealt with by school administrators. 

In response, SEED has held multiple parent meetings to address concerns. The latest one held Tuesday was called “SEED Safety and You.”

SEED declined an interview, but released the following statement in regard to the meeting:

“SEED is hosting regular, ongoing meetings with families as part of our commitment to obtaining parental feedback, addressing parent concerns, and actively engaging parents as partners. This evening's meeting covered the definition of bullying, the difference between bullying and conflict, and SEED's policies and protocols around bullying and conflict resolution. We were fortunate to host experts from the Office of Human Rights and the Department of Behavioral Health at today's meeting.”

The Office of Human Rights is charged with investigating formal complaints made against D.C. schools.

“Why do all these things have to happen for them to have a meeting for safety?” asked Renee Hamilton, the aunt of a SEED student. “That should have been implemented Day 1. And it should have been stayed on top of Day 1.”

Parents told FOX 5 the school has also promised more supervision. But one parent said she has seen no change since the tragedy.

“Kids running wild, no supervision,” added Tiarra Coleman, the mother of a SEED student. “There should be a parent, a teacher, someone at every door. There is not. Nothing has changed since that tragedy January 23rd.”

Coleman’s son was asked not to return to school after SEED administrators said he confessed to vandalism. Coleman told FOX 5 her son was coerced to take blame for other students who’ve been bullying and threatening him for months. 

“Those boys are still at the school to this day,” she said.

Coleman has since been trying to pull her son out of SEED, but said she can’t get the school to release his records so she can move him.

“They say they never expelled him,” explained Coleman. “But I have the email right here saying he has been dismissed. Now the school can’t tell me what happened. I’m asking for answers and they have none. My son has been out of school for 30 days now. He’s missing homework. He’s missing tests. He will likely have to take the grade over again.”

FOX 5 has reached out to SEED requesting a specific outline for changes made at the school, but has yet to receive any specific plan of action documentation.

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