Community around Legacy Elementary grieving after 5th grader commits suicide

His parents say his death is the result of the 10-year-old being bullied by his teacher
His parents say his death is the result of the 10-year-old being bullied by his teacher
Published: May. 2, 2023 at 11:16 AM EDT|Updated: May. 2, 2023 at 11:55 AM EDT
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - Kirey Whitehead is mourning the loss of his best friend, 10-year-old Louis Johnson.

“He didn’t deserve it,” said Whitehead. “I wish I was there so I could have slapped the gun out of his hand.”

Marion County Public Schools officials were notified that Johnson, a 5th-grade student at Legacy Elementary School, took his own life Thursday.

The child’s parents have been handing out flyers at the school claiming their son killed himself after being “ridiculed and bullied” by teacher Dawn White.

One parent said that was the first they heard of his death.

School officials say they have no recorded complaints from the family about bullying prior to the suicide. White has been removed from the classroom while the district investigates the allegations.

However, Whitehead and his stepfather Davaris Nubin say it had been an ongoing problem.

“She screams at a lot of people,” said Whitehead, who was in her class with Johnson. “Even though they don’t do anything. She makes people cry and she’s very mean. She deserves to be in jail for a little bit. For a long time.”

“It started being an ongoing issue every day,” said Davaris Nubin. “He would come to me in the car telling me about different issues. So I just told him ‘You know what, we’re going to tell your mom, we’re going to get this figured out.’ My fiancé went to her multiple times about it and still nothing has gotten done.”

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Parents hand out suicide prevention flyer
Parents hand out suicide prevention flyer(WCJB)

Nubin says it’s possible Johnson feared coming forth with the allegations.

“People are going to very protective of their kids and they’re going to do everything it takes to get things solved and get to the bottom of it,” said Nubin. “But I feel like when kids try to go and tell, I think there’s a gap in between there because they don’t know how to go and speak to adults sometimes.”

According to the gofundme, LJ battled bullying since moving to Florida. He took his own life on Thursday.

“He loved the beach, catching crabs, making TikTok recipes, and was a huge advocate for the homeless,” states the gofundme. “If he saw a homeless person, he immediately said ‘Dad, we gotta pray for that person’”.

The Marion County School District released the following statement:

“We are saddened and heartbroken at the tragic loss of this student. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time. Our grief counselors are available as needed to help any student or staff member who needs help dealing with this situation.”

- Kevin Christian, Director of Public Relations for MCPS

As of this report, the medical examiner’s office has not released the cause of death. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has no criminal investigations into the incident.

School district officials are meeting with Johnson’s family, and Whitehead’s mom said Kirey will be interviewed by the superintendent.

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