A Cook County Medical Examiner’s toxicology report states a parent the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) claimed died due to the spread of COVID-19 from the classroom to her home, actually died from chronic alcoholism, according to Chicago City Wire.
City Wire said it obtained the report from the medical examiner that stated Denisha Henry, 32, died in September at Stroger Hospital in Chicago of “chronic ethanolism.”
Henry’s eighth-grade son attended Jensen Elementary Scholastic Academy in Chicago’s East Garfield Park area.
Another Jensen parent, Shenitha Curry, 44, died of pneumonia, City Wire reported.
CTU, however, claimed both mothers caught the COVID infection from their children, and the union’s allies in the media spread that story widely.
“Our hearts go out to Jensen ES in mourning the passing of two mothers, 32 and 47, from COVID-19,” the union tweeted.
Our hearts go out to Jensen ES in mourning the passing of two mothers, 32 and 47, from COVID-19. Teachers, clerks and staff at Jensen, where 11/17 classes were recently quarantined, need all of our love and support right now.
Please stay vigilant. This virus remains very real. pic.twitter.com/dGveoRzVCJ
— ChicagoTeachersUnion (@CTULocal1) September 27, 2021
The union held a “Speak-Out for Safety” rally following Henry’s and Curry’s deaths, announcing “COVID claimed the life one 47-year-old mother, and a second 32-year-old mother died on Friday.”
“Both mothers had children sent home from quarantined Jensen classrooms,” the union said in its press release. “One mother complained bitterly on social media that she was never contacted by a contact tracer. Within a week she was dead.”
The union used the mothers’ deaths to advocate for its demands on “safety improvements” its leaders said must take place before in-school learning could resume.
City Wire reported Sunday a school source said officials at the Jensen school knew Henry’s death was not due to COVID-19.
“She did not die from COVID,” the source reportedly said. “We all know that’s not true.”
Additionally, a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) parent who requested anonymity for fear of retribution told City Wire union bosses should be ashamed of themselves for using the deaths of two mothers for their own gain.
“My God, the burden they placed on those young children who lost their mothers,” the parent said. “Telling them, basically, you killed your mothers by going to school. Shame on them! This proves they’ll stop at nothing to get what they want.”
As City Wire noted, CBS 2 Chicago headlined its report with, “Jensen Elementary Mother Dies From COVID-19 After Daughter Exposed At School.”
“Parents are demanding more information and more testing after learning two mothers of students at a Chicago Public School in Lawndale died last week from COVID-19,” the report continued, promoting a Go-Fund-Me page for Curry, who reportedly had diabetes and high blood pressure.
“CPS mandated children return to school for 2021-2022 academic school year,” wrote Curry’s sister Jasyma Johnson at the crowdfunding site. “She was faced with no choice, but to send them back even though she has health conditions.”
Chalkbeat Chicago also reported in September, “as deaths of two mothers stir outrage, Chicago promises to boost testing.”
“In the wake of the deaths of two mothers from COVID-19 in one elementary school community and with a Thursday deadline for a districtwide testing rollout looming, Chicago will bring in the region’s largest pediatric provider to back up surveillance efforts,” the report stated, adding, “According to the union and parents at the school, the mothers who died each had children who had been quarantined at Jensen.”
The Star News Network reached out to CTU for comment and is awaiting a response.
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Susan Berry, PhD is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Flowers” by Chicago Teachers Union.