Jeanette McCants is still dealing with a sharp pain, the kind no mother should have to deal with Less than two weeks, ago her son, Miguel Rodriguez, took his own life. He was only 12 years old.
"I'm taking it one day at a time," she said.
She believes bullying at West Hernando Middle School played a role, pushing her once fun-loving son over the edge. She believes the school didn't do enough, simply overlooking it.
"When you see one child approach you more than once or go to a clinic more than once getting hurt, or doesn't like certain things, that's a red flag," McCants said.
She says twice near the end of 2011, her son wrote reports complaining of being hurt at school. Once kicked in the groin, another time in the head.
McCants also wrote a letter requesting her son be transferred, which she says was denied due to overcrowding.
"I did everything they told me I needed to do, so that my hands felt tied," she said.
But district officials paint a different picture, saying there's been no formal documentation of bullying in Miguel's case. Hernando count Superintendent Bryan Blavatt says the incidents were investigated and handled.
"To our knowledge there were only two situations over a year ago, and a recent situation which clearly wasn't something related to bullying," Blavatt said.
He says kids' bad behavior, while inappropriate, doesn't necessarily constitute bullying.
"People try to find simplistic answers when something like this happens. There's no simple answers. It's a tragic event," he said.
The district says it has a zero-tolerance stance towards bullying, something McCants now questions. The case is still being investigated. Miguel's mom says she's speaking out in part to protect other kids from similar tragedy.
"No kid should feel hostile in their environment when he goes to school," she said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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