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Article of Interest - Dyslexia

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Bridges4Kids LogoSuicidal Kid With Dyslexia Sues School
by Denise Buffa, New York Post, July 28, 2003
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A dyslexic Brooklyn boy and his mother plan to sue the city Department of Education because they claim the teen attempted suicide after school officials told him he was so dumb, he wouldn't graduate until he was 21.

The 16-year-old claims his principal and teachers at MS 57 on Stuyvesant Avenue called him "dumb," "stupid" and other derogatory terms in front of other students, who started making fun of him, too.

But his mother, Rhonda, who spoke on the condition that she be identified only by her first name, said she was unaware her son was being "repeatedly berated, insulted and disparaged" until March 20.

"He ran out of the house, and when he came back in, he was holding his stomach. I pulled up his shirt and saw the cut marks," the mother said.

"He had taken one of my big kitchen knives."

The boy, whose identity is being withheld by The Post, was rushed to Jamaica Hospital and then transferred to Holliswood Hospital in Queens for psychiatric treatment, lawyers said.

He was treated for cuts to his abdomen and right shoulder, put into therapy and prescribed an anti-depressant, the lawyers said. They maintain the teen never had psychiatric problems before.

In the days and weeks that followed, Rhonda says she delicately got her tall, lanky son - once "the life of the party" - to reveal the reason why he tried to take his life.

"He was telling little bits and pieces, not everything at once," she said. "He was just fed up with everything."

She says he claimed the principal had berated him in the school lunchroom more than once and in the hallway at least one time, while his social-studies teacher had made fun of him two or three times in class.

One of their Manhattan lawyers, Charles Pelella, said, "We allege it's a pattern. We believe we have substantiation of that."

Rhonda and her son have notified the city of their intent to sue for an unspecified amount of damages in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

"The case is in the claims stage, and we do not have enough information at this time to comment," said Ellen Lombardi, first deputy chief of the city Law Department.

Rhonda says that the information will be provided in due time, because she wants to do more than help her son.

"I don't want any parent to go through what I had to go through," she said. "I'm very angry because these are people I trusted with my son."  


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