A family is suing a Chicago elementary school after they say officials forced a 9-year-old boys out into frigid temperatures without a jacket — his alleged punishment for complaining about being bullied.
The child’s mother, Yvonne Pinkston, said the incident shows a pattern of abuse and harassment not only by her son’s classmates, but by the school’s staff as well.
“Anything could have happened to my son out there,” Pinkston said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit Tuesday. “Anything … anything could’ve happened.”
The frustrated mother said her son, a fourth-grader at Fiske Elementary School, has been bullied since the start of the school year after the family moved to Chicago from Indiana. However, she says the school made zero effort to protect her child and claims some staff “… even became abusive toward him.”
According to CBS Chicago, Pinkston’s attorney, Dan Herbert, released surveillance video from the school this week showing a security officer manhandling the boy and pulling him into the principal’s office. Minutes later, the officer is seen ushering the student out of the building with the help of at least two other staff members.
In their complaint, the family alleges the school’s principal, a counselor and the guard “created a barrier” to force Pinkston’s son outside. It says the boy then “sat in the cold” for 30 minutes wearing a short-sleeved polo shirt until Chicago Police arrived.
Hebert claims the incident unfolded in March after the child complained to administrators that he was being bullied. The CBS station reports that the child had gotten into an altercation with another boy, both were taken to the office, and then one of them was forced from the school.
“They throw this kid out on the street in Englewood, and they leave him there, and to make matters worse, they called the police and they report that there’s a missing child,” the attorney said. “They report that some kid ran out of the school. He was thrown out of the school.”
After being forced out, Pinkston said her son told her he tried using all the other doors to get back inside, however, they were locked. The incident left the fourth grader feeling “scared, traumatized and freezing,” according to the lawsuit. That day, that family said temperatures only reached the mid-40s.
A child “being harassed and bullied by caretakers, that’s what makes this case overly egregious, and that is why we filed suit for this young child,” Herbert told the media Tuesday.
The complaint names Chicago Public Schools, the city’s Board of Education, the school principal, a security guard and a counselor. It further accuses the school of failing to investigate claims of misconduct, alleging battery, excessive force and intentional infliction of emotional distress, CNN reported.
After the incident, Herbert claims school officials lied about what happened and told the child’s parents he’d been fighting, scratching, and kicking other students.
“I didn’t happen,” the lawyer said, arguing the school tried to hide its hands after the fact because it didn’t like that Pinkston’s son was speaking up about the bullying.
“The school, the principal, didn’t like the fact that his mother and his grandparents were doing what they were supposed to do, and that was hold the school responsible,” he added.
Chicago Public Schools called the allegations “deeply disturbing” and promised a through investigation of the matter.
“Every CPS student deserves access to a safe and welcoming school environment, and the district takes seriously all allegations of student harm,” district spokeswoman Emily Bolton said in a statement. “These allegations are deeply disturbing, and we are fully committed to holding accountable any adult whose actions could have endangered a student.”
Pinkston’s son, identified in the lawsuit by the initials K.S., has since transferred to a charter school where his family says he’s happy and healthy, according to CNN. Also, the district confirmed the security officer involved in has been booted from his position
The plaintiffs in the case are requesting a jury trial.
The incident remains under investigation.
Watch more in the video below.