The lawsuit says the girl, Dionne Evans, 15, was the only black student in her entire grade at Malibu High School, when she was slapped by teacher Jennifer Gonzalez, who has a “history of violent attacks,” according to the suit.
According to media reports after the incident, the teacher claimed to be acting out a scene from “Bridemaids” in which one character smacks some sense into another character.
The lawsuit in Superior Court names Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Malibu High School, teacher Jennifer Gonzalez, and school principal Mark Kelly, in Superior Court. The girl and her mother are seeking medical costs plus general, punitive and exemplary damages for battery, assault, negligence, negligent supervision, violation of civil rights, public school discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, libel and slander, and corporal punishment.
“Gonzalez came over to plaintiff’s desk and said ‘You probably don’t even have a binder,’” the complaint states. “Plaintiff repeated to Gonzalez that her binder was at home. Gonzalez then told plaintiff that she needed to ‘get her life together’ and to ‘straighten up.’
“Gonzalez asked plaintiff if she had seen the movie ‘Bridesmaids.’ Gonzalez then slapped plaintiff hard several times across her face, at least four times. Plaintiff’s face hurt from the blows. Plaintiff repeated that her binder was at home.”
Evans says she was “humiliated and embarrassed and wanted to cry and run out of the room,” but she “just kept her head down” and “avoid(ed) eye contact with Gonzalez and her classmates.”
The suit claims Gonzalez has a “history of physically striking her students”—16 years ago, Gonzalez attacked student Andre Lewandowski by throwing a bottle of soda, which hit him in the genitals.
According to the complaint, “The blow to Lewandowski’s genitals was so painful he collapsed on the floor, crying in pain. Gonzalez told him to ‘Get the fuck out of my class and go to the nurse’s office.’ Gonzalez also told the male student, ‘I hope you never have babies.’”
After Evans’ mother complained about the attack on her daughter, the district didn’t reprimand the teacher, who wrote a letter of apology.
“In her letter of apology, Gonzalez claims that she cares deeply for plaintiff and that her intentions in hitting plaintiff were ‘honorable,’” the complaint states.
“She’s going back and forth across my face,” Evans said in an interview with a Los Angeles television station, KTLA. “I felt like she thought it was a joke.”
At first, Evans said she didn’t say anything. Later she told her bus driver, who told the girl she should speak up.
“I tried to convince myself that I was overreacting and part of me had felt guilty,” Evans said. “Then I was like, ‘You can’t be in denial about your feelings.’ Like, I was genuinely offended and I felt hurt and embarrassed.”
After the attack, Evans claims she was “segregated” in the library, and completed the school year at a different school.
She says the school district rejected her claim for damages.