JACKSONVILLE, Florida (WTLV) -- Through tears, a Jacksonville-area mother said she witnessed her son David being mistreated on one occasion.
Elizabeth Githiiyu says there were several other times when her son was made fun of because of his name and his size, right in front of teachers who she said did nothing to put a stop to it.
Githiiyu said she didn't learn of the other instances of teasing, however, until her son's classmates told her during his funeral.
"Even now, I don't believe he's gone," she said.
David Githiiyu was a 10th grader at Robert E. Lee High School. His mother says he had a bright future ahead of him.
"He performed well with science and everything. He did good. I was proud of him," she said.
David was overjoyed at being handpicked to go on a field trip to the University of Central Florida in Orlando. It was a chance to tour a college campus. But his mother said he was running late that day and when he tried to get on the bus with his classmates, the driver wouldn't open the door.
He stood on the outside, looking in. David called a friend already on board.
"He called his friend and the friend said, 'The coach said, "No, they can't open the door for you.'" When the bus left, my son broke into tears," she said.
Githiiyu says her son refused to go to school that day, which was something that was extremely unusual. "David... he had never missed school. Never."
And after that day, January 13, 2010, he would never set foot on school property again. David Githiiyu tied a belt around his neck and hanged himself. His mother found his lifeless body.
She says she later learned her son had been teased when teachers couldn't pronounce his last name and for being smaller than the other kids.
She says teachers did nothing to stop the bullying.
"I think he didn't want to face other students, or face the teachers, or that coach the next day. I think he was ashamed and he thought they didn't like him," she said.
Githiiyu said it's her family's hope that this never happens again.
The family has hired an attorney and filed a notice of intent to sue the City of Jacksonville and Duval County Public Schools.
Our sister station WTLV First Coast News called school officials Thursday afternoon to get their side of the story, but were told they won't comment on pending litigation.
Alezhia Batson, a spokesperson for the City of Jacksonville says, "Our Deputy General Counsel said that although the letter mentions the city, there is no city involvement. It's all the school board. All inquiries should be directed to the Duval County School Board."