A seventh-grade student at Lansing Middle School in Lansing, Kans., is suing school district officials over how he was treated after reporting physical and sexual assault at the hands of a white classmate.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S District Court in Kansas City, the African-American student claims he was the subject of repeated harassment and bullying by a white pupil but was instead treated as the aggressor, and punished when he finally fought back, the Kansas City Star reported.
Both boys are seventh-graders at the local middle school.
The complaint alleges that the white student groped the victim’s rear end while they were in study hall on Feb. 6. The victim reported the assault to a teacher — who only intervened after repeated complaints from the Black student. Her solution? Telling the victim to move to another seat.
The abuse continued on the bus ride home after school, where the perpetrator allegedly grabbed the Black student’s penis, hit him on the head multiple times, and kicked him in the face hard enough to cause a nosebleed, according to the suit. That’s when the victim stood up for himself and punched the other kid in the face.
The student’s complaint goes on to allege racial discrimination, arguing that the district failed to handle the bullying situation properly because of the victim’s race. For instance, after the school bus incident, school officials suspended the Black student but took zero disciplinary action against his white aggressor.
After the child’s mother contacted Principal Kerry Brungardt and Assistant Principal Brooks Jenkins, the suit claims school leaders defended the alleged perpetrator, saying he was simply “hugging” the victim before the fight broke out. They noted that her son had punched his bully quite “hard,” however.
It was only after viewing school bus surveillance, footage the victim’s mother initially was not allowed to see, that school leaders acknowledged the white student as the aggressor, KCUR reported. The lawsuit claims the child was bullied yet again, but this time by school leaders who suspended him once more and subjected him to questioning that put most of the blame on him.
“What could you have done to prevent the incidents of February 6 from happening?” school leaders reportedly asked. ” … Wasn’t Student Perpetrator simply being annoying, and not hitting your head hard?”
The suit specifically accuses Brungardt and Jenkins of “racial animus” and being indifferent to the Black student’s plight.
“Plaintiff was treated less favorably in the way in which he was disciplined, questioned and blamed despite the student perpetrator being the aggressor, because of his race and furthermore plaintiff was treated less favorably as compared to the white student perpetrator,” the complaint.
The plaintiff is seeking an unspecified award for compensatory and punitive damages.
Lansing School District declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.