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The death of Lebrawn Rankin: Warning signs

(WPMI) The death of Lebrawn Rankin: Warning signs
(WPMI){ }The death of Lebrawn Rankin: Warning signs

Lebrawn Rankin is the 8-year-old special needs child we introduced to you last week.

He died in April of 2018. The coroner said his cerebral palsy and malnutrition contributed to his death. He weighed just 23 pounds when he died.

There are documented concerns to the state about his condition from some of his teachers.

NBC 15's Rachael Wilkerson has uncovered warning signs school employees noticed that he was on the verge of dying.

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School employees told police they thought Lebrawn would die if DHR didn't intervene.

Sadly, that's exactly what happened.

Augusta Evans School is the only special needs school in the Mobile County Public School System.

It's the school 8-year-old Lebrawn Rankin attended.

Lebrawn needed a lot of care and help.

His family tells NBC 15 News he suffered from cerebral palsy and frequent seizures.

He was confined to a wheelchair, couldn't feed himself and struggled to communicate.

When he died April 6, 2018, the medical examiner said Lebrawn weighed just 23 pounds.

"I can't imagine the pain. An 8-year-old child weighing 23 pounds," said Tommy James.

James represents Lebrawn's estate.

He and others feel Lebrawn's death should have been prevented.

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NBC 15 News obtained police documents showing months before his death there were warning signs.

The documents reveal a school employee told police they noticed in August of 2017 "Lebrawn had an odor when he got to school and they would bath him three days a week."

In September, the police report says, "he had ringworm all over his body."

According to the documents, it was after Thanksgiving break that several school workers told police they noticed "Lebrawn began losing weight and was crying when he came to school," appearing to be hungry from "not eating enough over the weekend" when he was at home.

Another red flag: dirty diapers.

In December, the report says, an employee started marking his diaper with an "L for Lebrawn" to see if it was being changed frequently.

"And they got him back at school on a Monday and he still had the same diaper on Monday," said James.

That employee told police Lebrawn returned to school with the same diaper at least three times a week and over the weekend and that this went on for six months.

The report said when school workers confronted Lebrawn's mother, Zeidra Rankin, she allegedly said he was soiling them on the bus.

After Christmas break, a third teacher noticed Lebrawn was losing weight and was fussy.

In February, that teacher noticed sores on Lebrawn's body and sent a form home for Lebrawn's mother to sign.

School employees told police they filed a DHR complaint February 5 due to significant weight loss.

The police document quotes a school employee: "DHR was not taking Lebrawn's case seriously because Lebrawn kept coming to the school in the same physical state then, when it was reported."

A second DHR complaint was filed more than two weeks later on February 21.

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James said teachers were crying out for help.

"The reports are horrific, the ones I know of. Severe dehydration, severe malnutrition, sores all over his body, using the same diaper," said James.

The police report indicates school employees said a DHR worker came to school but did not interview those who reported Lebrawn's condition.

In March, Lebrawn got worse.

Teachers noticed rashes, body sores and Lebrawn had been acting lethargic.

In the last week of March, just before spring break, employees told police they feared Lebrawn was going to die.

On April 6th, the last day of spring break in 2018, their fear became a reality.

Lebrawn was found lying on his mattress in his diaper and T-shirt, not breathing.

EMT's who picked him up noted "patient presents extremely emaciated with all bony points clearly visible" and that "patient is extremely petite for his age."

A helpless child is now dead.

Now, attorney Tommy James is fighting for Lebrawn, suing the boy's mother and DHR.

"It's sickening. He died needlessly because DHR didn't do their job," he said.