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Educators say they purchased Lebrawn Rankin's headstone

(WPMI) Educators say they purchased Lebrawn Rankin's headstone
(WPMI){ }Educators say they purchased Lebrawn Rankin's headstone

For weeks we’ve shown you warnings from his teachers about Lebrawn Rankin's failing health and shown you the state investigated the complaints but did not find evidence of neglect.

The 8-year-old boy died weighing 23 pounds in April of 2018.

According to the medical examiner, Lebrawn died due to cerebral palsy, malnutrition, and dehydration with the possibility of neglect.

His death is still under criminal investigation.

Now, one of Lebrawn's former educators is speaking out.

NBC 15's Rachael Wilkerson continues to uncover more information into Lebrawn's death.

Lebrawn's death still bothers those who were close to him at his school. For them, he was more than just a student.

Tucked away in Prichard Memorial Cemetery, hidden in the tall grass you'll find little 8-year-old Lebrawn Rankin's headstone.

There is a blue and silver butterfly placed above it.

It's personalized with angels holding crosses and special nicknames from Lebrawn's former staff members at Augusta Evans Public Special Education School.

"It was important because when we found out that he did not have a headstone we wanted to do that for him, so that everybody would know that he was loved," said a former educator whose identity is concealed.

One of Lebrawn's former school educators who wanted their identity concealed says staff members raised money for his headstone.

They say they couldn’t find out his birth and death dates because there was no obituary online, so they had written Sunrise May 2009 and Sunset April 2018.

For them, the pain of losing Lebrawn will always be there, but there is comfort in knowing they did something special for him.

"He was truly loved, and he deserved to be recognized in that way and if someone wanted to go out to visit, they would be able to find him," the educator said.

They said Lebrawn was loved so much at his school by staff members, they nicknamed him "Squirt" and "Baby."

"He was considered the baby of the school because he was a smaller child in a wheelchair, but he was older than you expect. Everybody just called him 'baby' and he responded to that," the educator said.

Video taken on Lebrawn's 8th birthday in May of 2017 shows excitement in his smile.

His laugh melted the hearts of those closest to him at school.

"People came around to tell him happy birthday and it was just a great day for Lebrawn," they said.

Six months later, Mobile Police documents show all of this changed.

Lebrawn's happy smile wasn't there anymore.

"He went from what you saw on that picture to not being very happy at all. He would sometimes whine or cry getting off the bus and just being lethargic," the educator said.

Police records show teachers filed two complaints to the Department of Human Resources in February of 2018 about Lebrawn's condition.

The report stated he was losing weight, had skin break down and was concerned Lebrawn was going to die if DHR didn't intervene.

"His body also was just deteriorating before our eyes. He was getting smaller and smaller and less happy. We needed to do something," the educator said.

But according to police documents, when DHR showed up to his apartment March 26, 2018, the report states the DHR rep found nothing indicated for neglect.

"And he wasn't removed, which really didn't make any sense because at that point he was really frail and sick and you could tell he was really sick," said the former educator.

Eleven days later, on April 6, 2018, Lebrawn was found dead inside his own home.

It was a tragic ending for those who tried to get him some help.

This educator says, despite Lebrawn's heartbreaking story, they want the community to remember him as an 8-year-old who loved music, basketball and his teachers.

A sweet little boy in his final resting place.

"What happened to Lebrawn should never happen to any child," said the former educator.

An attorney for Lebrawn’s estate has sued Lebrawn’s mother and several DHR employees, alleging their negligence caused Lebrawn’s death.

Lebrawn’s mother told NBC 15 News she did nothing wrong and she wants her son to rest.

The DHR employees in court filings have either denied the allegations or argued they can’t be sued while working for the state agency.

The criminal investigation is ongoing.