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Texas School Officials Suggest Parents To Blame for Asher Brown’s Suicide

Jim Burroway

September 30th, 2010

After thirteen-year-old Asher Brown committed suicide after years of bullying at Hamilton Junior High in Cypress, Texas, school officials first claimed that they didn’t know Asher was being bullied. Asher’s parents however deny that. “That’s absolutely inaccurate — it’s completely false,” Amy Truong said. “I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It’s like they’re calling us liars.”

Now school officials are trying a new and far more loathsome and disgusting tactic:

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD said the district’s counseling and psychological teams would be expanding crisis services for students at Hamilton.

“The district, together with the Hamilton community, is saddened by the death of Asher Brown,” the statement read. “A district administrative team is conducting a thorough and involved investigation into the allegations of bullying that have been made since the death of Asher Brown. Although the investigation is not completed, the initial findings indicate that Asher’s personal and family histories were very complicated.” [Emphasis mine]

Meanwhile seventeen-year-old student Jayron Martin has come forward again to remind everyone about the bullying he experienced in the very same school district just last November, when he was beaten with a metal pole. He suffered a concussion from those injuries. That attack occurred after Jayron reported that he had been threatened to two assistant principals, who did nothing to protect him.

How many red flags should administrators be allowed to ignore before they’re held criminally liable?

Comments

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Ben Mathis
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

There has got to be something the family can do against the school. It´s tragic that they let it happen, and are destined to repeat it.

Ryan
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Caution might be good, here, until more facts are in. We really don’t know what his home life was like.

customartist
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Lesson:

Never under-estimate the propensity of the Religious Right to be aggressive in overpowering others.

Christopher
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Ryan, while I agree that we don’t know what his home life was like, it’s inexcusable that school officials would bring up the subject in a public statement expressing sadness about the tragedy of his death.

If school officials really have reason to believe there were problems with Brown’s home life they should be talking to investigators about that, not issuing statements that appear to blame the parents.

dave
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

There must be a lot of church goers in that town. The teachers and principal must go to church all the time. That must be why they do nothing, they got THE SICKNESS the church teaches. Discusting group of people they are.

elaygee
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

The family must sue and sue big and sue wide. Sue every school administrator there, every teacher, every school board member and the city and county. Nothing teaches people how to behave better than having to pay lots of cash money for their prejudices and hate.

Richard Rush
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Another lesson:

Never under-estimate the propensity of the Religious Right to deflect responsibility for the predictable outcomes that result from their policies.

And one more lesson:

Never under-estimate the propensity of the Religious Right to redefine words in order to cast themselves as splendidly decent, noble, and insightful. Examples include:

Hate becomes love.
Bigotry becomes values.
Lies become truth.
Prejudice becomes common sense.
Ignorance becomes spiritual insight
Delusion becomes faith.

Leonardo Ricardo
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

The school administration is a mess…a mess of cowards, bigots and abusers slithering around grasping for excuses because they bungled responsible care of ALL children at their school. I realize many Texans ARE responsible and accountable but this tribe of not-so-know-it-alls are plain defensive/stupid and repeatedly expose themselves to be dangerous thugs on the lamb.

Alex
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

The family was negligent and shares responsibility. As a responsible gun owner, I can’t imagine a situation where I would keep a loaded gun where a child can find it. Plenty of shame to go around, and the parents are partially responsible.

Christopher
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Alex, the fact that the parents left a loaded gun where their son could find it does not make them in any way responsible for his death. Yes, it makes them negligent gun owners, but his choice of means for committing suicide is irrelevant. His reasons for committing suicide are what is relevant.

Alex
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

@Christopher: they left a loaded gun where a desperate and terrified 13yo boy found it. I own a gun, it’s not loaded at home and I don’t even have kids. My dad had dozens of guns, all locked away safe when we were kids.

You said, “The means of his committing suicide is irrelevant” = not true: guns are always dangerous, the death is instant and the injuries can’t be treated. I stand by my statement that the dad who let his 13yo eat a gun is negligent, I’d lock him up for 5-10 years.

joe in oklahoma
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

I wonder what his religion was. anyone know? probably not xn.

Kathy
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

When I worked in a school, we had all sorts of confidentiality rules. It seems a public statement that references an individual student’s “complicated” history is a serious breach of confidentiality.

Grant
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

“How many red flags should administrators be allowed to ignore before they’re held criminally liable?”

Spot on. Keep up the pressure. This awful trend is starting to get national attention. Like your Uganda reporting, you’re having a real effect here. Please please keep it up. Kids’ lives are at stake. And thank you.

customartist
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Houston Chronicle Writer:

peggy.ohare@chron.com

Searches for Hamilton Junior High in Cypress, Texas are coming up w/ nothing.

Is this the Middle school?

customartist
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

There are some issues unresolved:

Is there security video available to prove or disprove that the Parents had indeed visited the school. Surely if they did visit, they talked to educators, no? If there is no video, then why? Shouldn’t there be surveillance in a School where previous reports have been alleged, and where now a 17 year old makes the very same asclaim?

And where were the Teachers when others allegedly “perform(ed) mock gay acts on him in his physical education class”?

And finally, Exactly who, by name, are the Parents saying they talked to over the course of the pase 18 months. Where did they get that figure? Are the Police still investigating?

Christopher
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

@Alex: If Asher Brown had hung himself, would you be blaming his parents for leaving rope where he could get to it?

I’ll admit that it was negligent and irresponsible of the parents to leave a gun where a child could get to it, and if he’d been playing with it and accidentally killed himself that would have been at least as tragic, and would have been the parents’ fault.

His parents, however, as far as we know, aren’t the ones who drove him to commit suicide, in spite of the school board’s implication that they are.

Dakotahgeo
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

Even his home and family situation aside, I want to know why this student was not safe inside or on the schoolgrounds! If the school regards “in loco parentis” as their sworn duty, they damn well better start doing their jobs! Why does it always take a financial settlement of any size to make the school districts in the USA responsible for the students’ (ALL students’) safety?? Until administrators and school board members start doing serious jail time for their inabilities to run the schools effectively, this garbage will not stop! Parents, get to work!!!
(From a retired school teacher who has experienced some unbelievably inept Educational Administrators!)

Dakotahgeo
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

elaygee
September 30th, 2010 | LINK
The family must sue and sue big and sue wide. Sue every school administrator there, every teacher, every school board member and the city and county. Nothing teaches people how to behave better than having to pay lots of cash money for their prejudices and hate.
————————————
elaygee, you are correct, of course, but how much money will it take to eradicate “stupid” and “insanity” from Administrations, School Boards, and teachers? I have a better idea. Insurance companies simply should not insure any schools outside of fire, flood, and weather damage situations. Let the Administrators, school board members, and teachers insure themselves like Drs. do. There would soon be a total turnaround if they HAD TO be responsible for what happens in a school! And it can’t start soon enough!
As with automobile insurance, no Administration/teaching certificate until you have purchased insurance!

Rossi
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

This family’s appearance on CNN last night was pretty heart-rending. I’d suggest a little less bluster about locking people up here. You didn’t just lose a kid. I don’t have any more facts than anyone else, but I’ll take a guess that they were fully within the law down in Texas in terms of gun ownership and possession.

It seems a bit cold to redirect away from the overall point here which is something could have been avoided long before it came down to the means used by this boy to take his own life. Have a little empathy.

John in the Bay Area
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

We absolutely need to address anti-gay bullying in schools. The school seriously failed to protect this kid. I have no reason to disbelieve the parents when they say that they tried to get the school to protect their kid.

I also agree that gun owners need to be responsible with their guns. Gay and straight child suicides occur with improperly stored guns in homes. In California, it is a crime to leave a gun so that a child can get access the gun.

Guns are one of the most effective ways to complete a suicide (along with falls from great heights and hanging).

We have to do what we can to decrease the needless stress and persecution that might drive a child to contemplate suicide ( such as anti-gay abuse at school), and take basic precautions to make sure that children don’t have access to guns that could result in accidental or non-accidental injuries or deaths.

This isn’t about ideology. It is about doing what we can to decrese needless childhood deaths.

Seraphiel
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

School officials -> prison.

Once a few of those useless a$$holes get a few years’ time for criminal negligence, it should inspire the others to start doing their jobs.

Timothy Kincaid
September 30th, 2010 | LINK

I wonder if a case can be made for either criminal negligence or child endangerment.

werdna
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

Wait, is blaming the family considered “loathsome and disgusting” now at BTB?

John
October 1st, 2010 | LINK

“The district, together with the Hamilton community, is saddened by the death of Asher Brown,” the statement read. “A district administrative team is conducting a thorough and involved investigation into the allegations of bullying that have been made since the death of Asher Brown. Although the investigation is not completed, the initial findings indicate that Asher’s personal and family histories were very complicated.”

Any investigation should be done by an independent third party, although in Texas that may be hard to come by. A school district that states that it doesn’t have a bullying problem is to investigate itself? Please.

BJ Heckman
October 2nd, 2010 | LINK

My grandson was also threatened at knifepoint by a student in the same school district and the school nrver suspended the kid or removed them to separate classes. Even after the attack, my grandson had to put up with his bullying because CyFair said there was nothing they could do. My grandson was a sixth grader and it was his first year in the school.

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