Parents Claim Their Special Needs Son Was Bullied At School

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bullied, taunted and choked until he passed out. Parents say their special needs son was tortured by classmates at two Baltimore City schools.

Meghan McCorkell spoke with those parents, who are taking their fight to court.

The Sullivan family has filed a lawsuit after they say their son was mercilessly bullied and the school system did nothing about it.

Baltimore schools are supposed to be bully-free, but Shawna and Eddy Sullivan say for their 10-year-old son Sean, the hallways were a nightmare.

“He’s being pushed to the ground, things are getting taken—his lunch money is getting taken. They’re taking his books, throwing them around,” said Shawna Sullivan.

They say their son, a special needs student, was tormented by classmates at Hazelwood Elementary School.

“Within a couple of weeks, he didn’t want to go to school at all,” Eddy Sullivan said.

The couple says they went to the principal countless times.

“We had phone calls after phone calls after phone calls, including the school police,” Eddy Sullivan said.

But the bullying wasn’t stopped. The last straw was when they say their son was attacked outside the school.

“He was choked until he was passed out, carried into the office and still nothing came of it,” Shawna Sullivan said.

The Sullivans then moved their son to Glenmount but say that was also not a bully-free zone. Again, they went to school officials for help but say the problem was ignored. Now the family has filed a lawsuit against the school board of commissioners and the principals of both Hazelwood and Glenmount Elementary/Middle Schools.

“Children are getting hurt and sooner or later, somebody is going to seriously be hurt,” Shawna Sullivan said.

They hope by taking legal action, it sends a message that the system needs to be fixed.

Baltimore City schools would not comment on this case because it is pending litigation. They did acknowledge the case is going to court Thursday.

According to Baltimore City school board policy, bullying, harassment and intimidation are prohibited in the school environment.

More from Meghan McCorkell
  • lisa

    all schools should adopt a ZERO TOLERANCE for bullying.

    • ronskemp

      @Lisa. ZERO TOLERANCE is the only way to address this very serious issue. And, that ZERO TOLERANCE policy should apply to everyone involved, including the school administrators or school SYSTEMS that failed to protect the child.

    • mammy bird

      no one wants to be accountable – the violent always are hungry – what does nature do to avoid violent ..

  • crazy!

    Playing devil’s advocate, maybe just maybe, the kid is the problem? Seems like no matter what school they move him too, this will happen.

  • Bernard Mc Kernan

    A child with special needs will always pose a problem. It doesn’t say what kind of affliction he has but I’m going to say autism or Aspbergers disease. Bullying is learned @ home from parents who are ignorant & selfish. Children of all ages should be safe & happy while learning life’s skills. Baltimore city is not the best venue for nurturing & caring principals.

    • keets

      Are YOU serious? Sheriff Bernie, you are the BIGGEST BULLY in this forum!!!! What does that say about your parents? They we’re evil, bigoted, hateful bullies that taught you everything you know. What a complete hypocrite you are.

      So let’s see if you can REALLY shock us this time and say something intelligent insteady of (once again) resorting to your old bullying ways. I know, why don’t you quote Confuscious again. Genius.

      • Keets mageets

        Oh Bernie, I’d know you anywhere. You single out people all the time, what’s the dif? (that’s short for “difference”, I know someone of your advanced age -70, right? – may not know the slang these days).

      • queen

        Keets you have a problem & want me to know how clever you are.

      • keets

        queen, I’m sure that made sense in your head, but it came out weird. try again and I’ll try to be offended.

      • yousefthe giant

        Keets, What is bothering you that you need to single me out? You’re a little minded person, shame on you but you already know that don’t you.

      • keets

        OH! or pick out my typo…also a good come back for someone as smart as you are.

  • Mike

    Teach your kids to defend themselves and beat the hell out of anyone that bullies them. If the school system doesn’t like that, than they need to become more proactive in their system to stop the tormenting anf bullying.
    If they suspend/expel your child for defending themself, than sue them for not upholding their own policies and maintaining a safe environment for all students.

    • 1-0-3-0- witherspoon

      here here mike

    • TheRiley

      Special needs child… learns a little slower…
      Remember that mike…

  • B Mesaris

    Hey Crazy, why is a special needs child a problem? These children are just different than your average child and other children see them as easey targets and push them around. These bullies have low selfeasteem at home so this makes them look big in front of the other kids. There ass’s should be throwed out of school for awhile. This child is not the problem, it’s the system in Baltimore city.



    • TheRiley

      Some of us don’t have a choice but to live here. We just have to make it work.
      Don’t be so judgmental.

  • Gabrielle

    As a parent of a son with special needs who’s just entering the school system now in kindergarten, I can tell you that this story is our worst nightmare come true. We trust the school system to protect all of our kids – special needs or not – and ensuring a nurturing environment where learning is possible. If the schools can’t protect our kids when we’re not there, they need to be held accountable!

    • TheRiley

      Gabrielle, the best you can do at this point is to sleep with one eye open while your child is in school. The school “is supposed to be” held accountable in these situations but normally nothing is done until the bullying becomes a serious disruption or there is a serious injury as the outcome.
      Just keep up with your son on a daily basis, asking such questions as, “what happened in school today?” “what did you learn?” “Did you make any friends?” and “Has anyone been touching you?”

  • Dawn Bent

    Let’s face it, it’s a group of kids against one. Usually is and always was that way when I attended Baltimore City schools. It’s not “just” your usual taunting, teasing, pushing stuff. I grew up in inner city schools in Baltimore and it goes WAY beyond that. So many kids there are cruel and very physical. Probably comes from the way they’re parented, of course. And I HATE hearing “well just defend yourself”..yeah YOU defend yourself when 8 kids are throwing you to the ground. It’s NEVER HARDLY EVER one against one. And let’s also be real- any kids and/or parents who witness this bullying just laugh and turn the other way. There’s zero sense of community. The NUMBER ONE reason why I’m raising MY 2 young children in a different state. Is the grass greener? Not always. Will my children probably still be bullied at some point in Colorado? Probably. But Baltimore has a serious issue with violence and we all know it.

  • Sharon

    The school prinicipal & teachers need to be held accountable if they tolerate this type of behavior. The bullies need to be expelled from school and let their parents figure out how their child gest to school. Maybe then the bullying will stop if the parents of the bully is inconvenienced and held accountable for their childs behavior. If that doesn’t work report them to the Board of Education and file a class action lawsuit against the Board & principal and/or teachers.

    • yousefthe giant

      Sharon, You’re dumber tan a box of rocks & you should stick to ebonics as your means of medium you poor dumb black bitc*.

      • yousef the sheriff

        did you single someone out? I can’t believe it!m

    • Meeee

      MD school policy. If they didn’t witness it, it didn’t happen. Unfortunately the system requires a witness and the other kids are worthless. i.e. columbine.

  • GM

    You are right Sharon and the bullies need to go to jail for a long time cause they are just going to get more violent.

  • My Opinion

    When my children were in school – the principal and teachers use to tell the parents at the PTA meetings – when the child is in school, it is the responsibility of the teachers and principal. But, when the child is at home, the parents are the responsible party. Whatever happened to this statement? Is it coming down to the principal and teachers being afraid of the bully themselves? That’s why the school systems don’t want to get involved until there is a serious situation.

  • mammy bird

    Oh the nerve you have expecting the safe education to the mind of your child .Don’t you know that schools are for distracting your tax money . Send him to school with the native awareness . assume your indigenous rights .

  • Bernard Mc Kernan

    Opinion, Unfortunately today & for many years now since the Regan adminstration we have not had the cohesiveness betwenn parents & adminstrators / pupils. Teachers are nothing more than babysitters in all except the well funded parent involved communities. Parents are stressed working, lazy & tired. Teachers have a game plan all laid out for them each day so you can forget creativity. The kids are warehoused a-la- government style. The dept of education should be done away with.

  • crazy_rod

    I agree with mesaris I have a brother that’s special needs and he was bullied and the school didn’t do anything I’m glad that someone is doing something some people don’t stand up and stop it

  • ronskemp

    Zero tolerance is absolutely what’s needed. And, until we reach that point, we’ll continue seeing the problems we’re seeing today. School officials, school administrators need to be held accountable. If they fail to intervene, if they fail to root out the ones who are guilty of the bullying, they deserve to be punished as well. Zero tolerance means just that.

  • Bernard Mc Kernan

    All of the bullying, pushing & shoving , all of the lack of respect & civility towards one another, starts at home, period. If the parent / parents are too damm lazy to teach their children the means of expression, respect & proper interaction then there is no going forward on this matter & eventually these kids will end up in Juvenile hall, jail, dead or in some other low wage paying job angry at the world.Since this is in mostly inner city schools & they have a blacl population exceeding 70%, it’s safe to say this is mostly a lack of good parenting & we all know the history of the black family & parenting. Make a baby, make tracks.

    • Bernard dranreB

      like looking in a mirror, isn’t it

      • keeter skeeter loves ladarious McKernan

        very grown up for a 70 year old, why don’t you talk about my “mama” while you’re at it. pathetic old fart.

      • ladarius

        Keets is a liar exaggerates & is so fat that if she went on a starvation diet, it would take her three years to die……Toot’s, I’ve got two words for you, Salad Bar!

  • Meeee

    Bullying is a gateway crime. Bullying should result in automatic expulsion at the expense of the parents. I cannot believe that no one wants to help the weak. Not one person stood up for this kid. that is truly pathetic and the kids classmates should be just as guilty. C o l o m b i n e was not a random act. Just wait when one of these kids snaps and everyone will blame him/her for being pushed beyond their limits while everyone else ate popcorn and watched like it was watching the kardashians.

    • ronskemp

      A point I’ve been trying to make for years

  • VICTORY!!!!! | ronkempmusic

    […] the news just this week is a story about a bullied special needs student in Baltimore.  The parents of that boy can take heart in this […]

  • ronskemp

    I can’t post a link here, but I want to encourage everyone who wants to see some accountability to click on my name and read my lasted blog entry, “VICTORY!!!! And, if anyone knows the family, they REALLY need to read this. Great example of zero tolerance.

  • sheena smith

    All I want for my daughter is to send her to school so that she can finish her studies. As a parent, education and her safety is my priority concern, but I can’t remove my worries when she goes to school. I’ve always been afraid every time that my daughter is in school because I have seen a situation before which college students were the prime target of every sex offenders and criminals roaming around the school campus. I even felt uneasy when I’m at work and I kept on thinking my daughter’s safety. Good thing I knew about the service offered by SafeKidZone, it has a perfect application called panic button which is very useful in times of emergency. Check out their site

  • The Truth?

    Alright, Mr. M, can you imagine the publicity? It’s one thing to come onto a forum and bash people, but you live in a city that is, as you are so fond of expressing, 68% African. You want to air your dirty laundry that publicly? Because believe me, if my IP is accessible to you, then your’s is accessible to me and I will publish every filthy, foul bigoted remark you have ever made.

    ..and there’s the difference between us. I have NEVER said a cruel thing about the citizens of this city. In fact, I have been nothing but civil, until I got tired of watching you bashing innocent people for expressing their opinions, something which ought to be respected, even if you disagree. You get people truly upset. That’s hurtful and if you watch a bully at work, you ought to stand up to him. So this is me, standing up to you.

    Don’t threaten people. Maybe try civility. It works and people don’t hate you. Bullying never turns out OK for anyone, not even you.

    • deliverance

      Keets, I am more than willing to face that challenge in a court of law. My comments were ,are general in nature & protected under the 1st amendment. Yours, calling me by name & where I live are an invasion of privacy & I can sue for libel. I’m near the end of my life so publicity means &*^%$# to me ok?…..You are a dispirited person who needs to champion a cause so let’s exchange IP routing numbers & see each other in court slime.


        so, i take it you’re not going to sue me? i mean, wow, you’re all over the place….OOOOHHHH I get it, you forgot. I hear that happens at your age. you’re cute bernzie toots.

      • the mechanic

        God Bless??? Not you of course…..How I live & go out of this world is none of your F..K’n business. If people have a problem with my telling the truth based on facts, let them deal with it & stop trying to be a hero cause you’re a zero.A legend in her own mind, A broken woman but a champion in her eyes. Ya know, Hitler was delusional , all the fruitcakes who thought they could champion others causes are to. You have about as much knowledge of life as a pimp in a monastery.

      • God bless

        Dispirited and champion at the same time, eh?

        Let me get this straight, you are at the end of your life and this is how you want to spend it? I am so sorry.

        I didn’t divulge anything that you didn’t already make public. Google your name Mr. M, it is the first thing that pops up. I haven’t done a thing to you. I really hope you find something positive to do with the end of your life, because this is not a good way to go out.

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