Camika Shelby, the mother of Nigel Shelby who passed away in April from an alleged suicide, has hired civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jasmine Rand, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the 14-year-old’s death.
Nigel allegedly killed himself after being bullied for being gay and his Camika believes Huntsville City Schools knew more about the circumstances surrounding the cause of his death then they are letting on. She also says her son’s death will not be forgotten.
"I had so many questions that I needed to be answered," Shelby told WAAY31.
Shelby says that when her son died she tried to get access to his cell phone to find answers. His school’s faculty told her that they didn’t know his password but suggested she read a letter in his backpack, which was a note to her.
"The fact that they knew that letter was in his backpack, somebody knew that he was planning to do this," Shelby said.
Benjamin Crump and Jasmine Rand are the same lawyers who represented Trayvon Martin’s family. Crump says he hopes to give Shelby the answers she’s looking for.
"We want to investigate and be able to tell Camika Shelby exactly what they told her child when he reported the bullying," Crump said.
Shelby even claims that school employees told her that her son being gay was a choice. "I honestly feel from the bottom of my heart, if someone had said something, this could have been prevented," she said.
Huntsville City Schools spokesperson Keith Ward issued a statement after learning Camika Shelby hired a legal team. Read it in full below.
We understand that Camika Shelby has retained two attorneys to help her learn more about the events preceding her son’s death. Huntsville City Schools will work with Ms. Shelby and her attorneys to answer questions they may have and to correct any misunderstandings or misinformation, to the extent possible. The effect of Nigel Shelby’s passing is still being felt by the school and district-wide. The administrators and counselors of Huntsville High School had a close relationship with Nigel during his time at the school. They worked with Nigel to ensure that he felt at home at Huntsville High. They were absolutely devastated by Nigel’s passing and tried to do everything in their power to support Ms. Shelby during that difficult time.
As explained at the time of Nigel’s passing, Huntsville City Schools is committed to fostering a culture that is welcoming and inclusive and establishing a learning environment that treats all students with equality and respect. We expect all students to treat each other with courtesy and dignity and to refrain from bullying and harassment. The district addresses bullying and harassment in both our policy manual and code of student conduct (called the Behavioral Learning Guide), with extensive punishments and interventions for the offending student. In fact, the BLG treats bullying and harassment of another student based on an identifying characteristic of that student with heightened disciplinary consequences and interventions. This heightened treatment demonstrates Huntsville City Schools’ commitment to eliminating this type of bullying and harassment in its schools.
Additionally, it has been and continues to be Huntsville City Schools’ practice to partner with organizations who can provide educators with tools to address bullying and harassment in schools. For example, Huntsville City Schools has had a long partnership with the Anti-Defamation League. The district has implemented the Anti-Defamation League’s program “No Place for Hate” in all of its schools for years. In addition to that partnership, Huntsville City Schools has been working with GLSEN Greater Huntsville to incorporate GLSEN’s tools and resources into the district’s trainings for both administrators and faculty.
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