The family of a Calgary girl who took her own life after her parents say she was bullied has launched a lawsuit against the Calgary Board of Education.
Amal Alshteiwi was just nine years old when she died by suicide in March of 2019.
Two years later, the pain of the loss continues to be felt by her family.
“My wife and (I) not good,” Amal’s father Aref Alshteiwi said in an interview with Global News. “Sometimes everyday, (we) cry.”
Her mother Nasra Abdulrahman told Global News after Amal’s death that she made the school aware of the bullying but she says Amal never got the help she needed.
Now Amal’s parents have launched a $475,000 lawsuit against the CBE.
In the lawsuit, the family claims the CBE and the school she attended were negligent and failed Amal by not protecting her, failing to investigate the alleged bullying and not providing staff with proper training.
“The board failed in its duty of care to protect Amal during the assaults, harassment and bullying and was thereby negligent,” reads the statement of claim filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench.
According to the statement of claim, Amal’s parents met with the school and her teacher on several occasions to raise concerns about the bullying she was experiencing.
“In this case, the school was aware for almost a year that this was an ongoing problem,” said Darryl Singer, a civil litigation lawyer at Diamond & Diamond Law who is representing the family. “The school refused to do anything about it or they neglected to do anything about it and as a result, this little girl took her own life.”
The lawsuit claims Amal was bullied for “her appearance, her perceived disability and her ethnicity,” and that in one incident, a bully told Amal to “go hang yourself with your headscarf.”
The family moved Amal to another school in March 2019, but four days later, she was found dead in her bedroom.
None of the claims have been proven in court.
The CBE said it would not be commenting on the matter out of respect for the family.
The school board has yet to file a statement of defence with the court.
Two months after Amal’s death, the CBE launched an independent review after several bullying incidents.
The review was conducted by University of Calgary education professor Kent Donlevy, who talked to 150 teachers and administrators. The review was made public in October 2019.
Singer said that although the lawsuit won’t bring back Amal, its purpose is to send a message.
“There is no amount of money that is going to bring this young girl back, and there’s no amount of money that’s ever going to make these parents feel better,” he said. ” It’s a way of sending a message to the board to say, ‘We don’t want this to happen to another child.'”
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.
–With files from Global News’ Jayme Doll