Family Of Nigel Shelby Recruits Attorney Benjamin Crump To Launch Investigation
The family also recently learned the teen was told by a school administrator his sexuality was choice.
Al.com reports the mother of Nigel Shelby, Camika Shelby, alleges officials at Huntsville High School in Alabama knew the teen was struggling with bullying before his suicide. During a press conference on June 10, Shelby and her attorney, Benjamin Crump, told media the teen was told by a school official "being gay was a choice."
Blavity reported the Huntsville resident did not know her son had regular conversations about his sexuality with school administrators. There was very little communication between her and the school, according to a statement.
“I was never contacted by the school and informed that my son was struggling with his sexual identity and regularly having discussions with a school administrator," she said in a statement.
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The day after Nigel died in April, Camika went to speak to a school administrator to learn why her son would take his own life. She learned from the official there was a suicide note in Nigel's bookbag. Then it donned on the saddened mom, the note was proof that others knew about Nigel intentions.
The 15-year-old wrote in the letter about trying to change to prevent others from bullying him.
"Mama, I tried so hard to be normal,” the teen reportedly wrote in the note.
Camika said the school failed to inform her about the bullying and the efforts to resolve the bullying. If they informed her, Nigel may still be here, she believes.
"I honestly feel from the bottom of my heart if someone had said something this could have been prevented I feel like I lost my child because he was failed by a system that was supposed to protect him," Nigel's mother said.
Although the school has stated they will cooperate with the Shelby family investigation, Camika still believes there is more that has yet to be told. A statement from the Huntsville City Schools district confirms counselors were well aware of the bullying. However, there is no mention if they relayed information back to the mother.
“The administrators and counselors of Huntsville High School had a close relationship with Nigel during his time at the school,” the statement said. “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.”
Crump and Jasmine Rand are spearheading an investigation into the school's handling of Nigel's bullying, according to WHNT News 19. Both attorneys believe the school violated Nigel's civil rights by suggesting he should stop being gay.
"They told him that being gay was a choice as to if it was his responsibility to try to conform so he wouldn't have to continue to be bullied," Crump said.