The chief superintendent of the Calgary Board of Education says procedures are in place to ensure schools are safe and welcoming for everyone on Monday as the school board spoke out for the first time since a nine-year-old student committed suicide in March.

Amal Alshteiwi, a newcomer to Canada from Syria, took her own life several weeks ago following tireless bullying and a change of schools.

“We are taking this matter extremely seriously,” said Christopher Usih, CBE chief superintendent. “We have worked with the family, the school and the community to try to understand what happened to Amal.”

Usih would not comment on the circumstances that led to the young girl’s death but remained steadfast in his belief that the CBE has the proper procedures in place for addressing similar situations.

According to her family, the school did not do enough to help Amal. Aref and Nasra, speaking through a translator, told CTV on Monday that Amal’s teacher was informed of the bullying but they claim the school did nothing to address the issue.

The family fled the violence in their homeland and arrived in Canada nearly three years ago seeking a safe, peaceful place. The parents say Amal was happy in her first years at school but the bullying from other students occurred when she began to struggle with mathematics in Grade 4 and the attacks persisted for months.

“When I noticed that my kid was having problems at the school and slipping away, and all my other kids they are not happy at school, I went to the school myself,” explained Nasra Abdulrahmin, Amal’s mother.

Aref Alshteiwi recounted the heartless taunts of Amal’s classmates. “They were saying ‘you’re stupid, you’re ugly, nobody loves you’,” said Alshteiwi through the interpreter. “Even if you move to another school they still think there’s nobody that’s going to love you there.”

Amal switched schools weeks prior to her death but the damage had been done. Her father found her body in her room in March. “I want to know what happened to my daughter and why this has happened.”

The Calgary Police Service conducted a dozen interviews during their investigation into the young girl’s death but concluded there was no evidence of foul play.

The family of eight has received an outpouring of support from refugee and newcomer support groups in the weeks following Amal’s death. The organizations are attempting to educate newcomers on the issue of bullying and the Calgary Immigrant Support Society will be hosting a town hall for parents on their rights.  

With files from CTV’s Jordan Kanygin