77ºF

Letter: Lack of discipline at Lake Mary school where student committed suicide

Lamar Hawkins, 14, committed suicide at Greenwood Lakes Middle School

LAKE MARY, Fla. – Someone claiming to be a faculty member at the middle school where a teenager committed suicide earlier this month sent a letter to an attorney implying the school isn't doing enough to stop bullying.

The person didn't sign his or her name saying he or she was afraid of being fired for speaking out.

The letter was sent to attorney Matt Morgan, who is representing 14-year-old Lamar Hawkins parents.

Hawkins shot himself in the head in a bathroom stall at Greenwood Lakes Middle School earlier this month.  His parents say because he was relentlessly bullied.

The writer starts the letter by offering "deepest condolences" to Lamar's family, and goes on to talk about the lack of discipline for students.

"We were instructed to handle discipline in our classroom with more tolerance. We needed to keep the students in our classrooms at all costs," the letter states.

Melissa Gusaeff says her son was best friends with Hawkins and has not been to school for two weeks because the bullying got so bad. She says she knows not enough is being done to stop bullying.

"It's being swept under the rug to make the school look like an 'A' school with zero tolerance," she said.

But the letter has some inaccuracies. The writer claims student offenses were "downgraded" to protect the schools rating with the state.

Local 6 checked with the Florida Department of Education, and reviewed its grading models and found student discipline is not factored into its grading system.

The spokesperson for the Seminole County Sheriff's Office says they are still investigating the suicide and can not say whether bullying was a factor.