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School principal suspended after disabled student commits suicide

Official did not do enough to help bullied 16-year-old, says Madrid education department

Puerta de acceso del instituto público Ciudad de Jaen
The gates of the Ciudad de Jaén school on Monday. EL PAÍS

The Madrid regional educational department has suspended the principal of the high school attended by a 16-year-old disabled girl who committed suicide last week after she was reportedly bullied by another student.

Luis Carlos Pérez Aguado, the head of Ciudad de Jaén High School, did not “follow standard protocols in reporting the alleged school bullying incident when he learned about the case,” said a Madrid education department spokesman in announcing a disciplinary investigation.

The girl’s parents had filed police complaints on at least two occasions, one as recently as last week

Pérez Aguado, who was suspended until the inquiry is concluded, should have taken his complaint to the district level or directly to education inspection authorities, the official added.

The girl’s parents had filed police complaints on at least two occasions – including one as recently as last week – about their daughter’s treatment by a fellow student, police sources told Efe news agency. The police’s family services unit is investigating the matter.

On Friday morning, the girl, who had learning and mobility disabilities, said goodbye to her friends through WhatsApp before throwing herself from the sixth floor of the apartment complex where she lived with her parents and younger brother in Madrid’s Usera neighborhood.

“I am tired of living,” she wrote.

The family blames another student at the high school for allegedly demanding money from their daughter

Her parents blame another student at the Ciudad de Jaén High School for allegedly demanding money from their daughter and sending her threatening messages.

“The school has bent over backward for this girl, attended to her diversity, and has been on top of the problems that she had, and detected and put into action all possible measures to resolve this,” explained Pérez Aguado in a statement posted on the school’s website on Monday.

“Our conscience is clear because we did everything possible to help her,” he wrote, adding that the school district and education inspection authorities had been notified. However, Madrid regional government officials dispute this.

The suicide occurred shortly before 9am as classes were about to get underway.

According to the girl’s uncle, his niece had taken up a part-time job so she could pay the other student.

Our conscience is clear because we did everything possible to help her”

Ciudad de Jaén High School principal Luis Carlos Pérez Aguado

“She would take care of elderly people and saved €50 so she could pay that scoundrel,” the uncle told EL PAÍS on Saturday.

The girl had mobility problems, as well as learning disabilities that “made her act like a 10-year-old,” he said.

She failed a grade and was in a special education class at her school. According to sources at the school, several of her classmates had to be treated for “anxiety attacks” on Friday when they learned about the suicide.

The uncle explained that she told her teachers about the bullying she had been receiving from another boy at school and showed them the messages he was sending her.

“She wasn’t the only one at the school who was scared of him. But she was the only one who complained,” he said.

Neither her parents nor other family members saw the messages because she erased them from her phone before the police complaint was filed. The teachers had called the parents to a meeting scheduled for Monday to discuss the issue because they had noticed that she was “very nervous” last Thursday.

Teachers and parents have been demanding more resources for the 1,200 students

Meanwhile, the Association of Mothers and Fathers of Students (AMPA) has said that Madrid education officials have not given the school or the pupils any support since the incident – an allegation denied by the education department spokesman, who said a psychologist was sent over to Ciudad de Jaén on Friday and more are expected to go to the school this week.

Ciudad de Jaén High School has a long history of complaints. For years, teachers and parents have been demanding more resources for the 1,200 students, 60 of whom have disabilities.

The education community “has for a long time been filing complaints at all administrative levels – local, regional and with juvenile prosecutors – about the failures and needs at the school,” said AMPA president Germán Suela, reading from a statement at the school entrance during a ceremony held for the dead girl.

Her photo, along with a flowers and an altar with candles, was placed in the schoolyard.