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Mckenzie Phlipot's Family, Friends Criticize CPS Probe of Her Suicide

By  Adeshina Emmanuel and Benjamin Woodard | September 18, 2014 3:29pm | Updated on September 22, 2014 9:57am

 A CPS investigation of Mckenzie Phlipot's suicide found no evidence that she was bullied at school.
A CPS investigation of Mckenzie Phlipot's suicide found no evidence that she was bullied at school.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard (inset: family photo)

UPDATE: Travis Phlipot, Mckenzie's father, clarified his remarks to say that Chicago Public Schools had contacted him and the girl's mother in its investigation of Mckenzie's suicide, but they declined to participate.

ANDERSONVILLE — Family, close friends and former classmates of 12-year-old Mckenzie Phlipot said CPS did not interview them during an investigation of whether bullying contributed to her suicide in May — and the school district is releasing few details of how its probe found "no credible evidence of bullying" at Peirce.

The tragedy surrounding Mckenzie's suicide and accusations from her parents that bullying contributed to her death spurred sorrow in the Peirce community and calls for an investigation.

Now, the results of that investigation has sparked outrage from people close to the girl, who would have turned 13 on Sunday.

Ben Woodard discusses the CPS report:

Travis Phlipot, Mckenzie's father, said on the advice of legal counsel, he and the girl's mother declined to speak with CPS lawyers conducting the investigation. But he was upset that he had to learn about the investigation through the media.

"They never contacted us with the results, they contacted you guys first," he said.

Several friends of Mckenzie's who attend Peirce and said they witnessed Mckenzie being bullied told DNAinfo Chicago they hadn't been questioned during the investigation, which was conducted during the summer.

"They didn't ask any students," one friend said.

Another friend who created a Facebook page honoring Mckenzie titled "Peace to the Golden Girl," posted on the page Thursday: "I find it sad CPS didn't find evidence she was bullied! Everyone saw what was happening! What more do they want?!? I won't stop till people see the truth about this whole cover-up."

In a statement issued earlier this week, CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said, "After the incident, there were some public allegations that bullying at school may have contributed. As a result, CPS officials conducted an investigation, and there was no credible evidence of bullying."

Asked for more details on how CPS conducted the probe or who was interviewed, McCaffrey said Thursday that "the CPS Law Department's investigators conducted this investigation. It was initiated based on the flier that Mr. Phlipot distributed, which included allegations that the school was aware of bullying/unfair treatment and failed to address it."

The flier, which Mckenzie's parents passed out at the end of the school year, accused the school of ignoring the family's "cries for help" and alleged a teacher contributed to the bullying, another aspect of the investigation CPS has declined to discuss.

At a school meeting about the investigation Tuesday, Peirce parent Heather Gregg said, "for them to say bullying didn't play a factor doesn't make sense. ... I've heard enough parents' testimonies about bullying during these meetings." 

Several of Mckenzie's friends, in interviews in June, also spoke out about bullying, saying Mckenzie was "shoved, punched and left with a black eye" and that "other people just talked behind her back and teased her and called her names." 

Before she took her life, Mckenzie complained on social media about being bullied, writing, "Look! All the bullies at my school need to stop talking." On one Instagram photo, one commenter seemed to defend the practice, saying, "Every body bullies u."

On May 4, four days before Mckenzie's death, she made a final post to her Instagram account, writing, "If I died, would you cry? ... Would your heart drop to your stomach when you found out that it was suicide?"

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