A current student of Grant Elementary School filed a lawsuit this week, through his mother, against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District that alleges the district and its employees ignored ongoing incidents of physical and verbal abuse against the student and violated his civil rights.

District staff said Wednesday SMMUSD does not comment on matters related to litigation, but the claim states the mother and student repeatedly reported instances of bullying, tormenting and aggression to the school’s principal and teachers after the 8-year-old student was kicked, spat at, pushed and verbally abused daily between August 2017 and December 2019.

“The torture began shortly after his first day of kindergarten and has continued unchecked for more than two years,” Los Angeles attorney Christa Ramey said Wednesday. “One student told him he looked like ‘poop.’ Others called him ‘gay’ and said he would go to hell.”

Students also threatened to kill him, Ramey added. The mother reported the bullying to the school, “but was told she was ‘over-reacting’ and he must be doing something to attract the harassment. When her child began talking about suicide, however, (she) knew she needed to seek the assistance of an attorney in order to save him,” said Ramey.

The student’s mother sought to move him into a different first-grade classroom at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, however according to the claim, the principal denied her request stating it needed to be made before the classroom assignments were made.

Due to the emotional distress that the claimant suffered, the claim later states, his mother took him out of school for approximately two weeks to receive emotional treatment.

The claim also alleges the district improperly trains its employees to handle bullies and responds inappropriately to student-against-student harassment and bullying.

“The school turned a blind eye to the bullying and then intimidated and embarrassed him when he asked for help,” Ramey said. “Instead of protecting a vulnerable child in their custody, the school staff further victimized him.”

As a result, the claim states, the claimant is seeking unspecified damages for past and future expenses related to medical treatment and other care for the claimant’s injuries.

brennon@smdp.com

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3 Comments

  1. My heart is broken for this child and his mother, if you can’t trust school personnel to be properly trained and to be compassionate and empathetic how can you feel at peace everyday knowing your child is building positive childhood memories? And as for the kids in this neighborhood being such bullies… “kids will be kids”? No, bad parenting is just plain bad parenting. I hope Grant pays dearly and I hope parents realize its their job to raise the next generation of kind caring human beings.

  2. This is very disturbing.
    What was done by the mental health professionals on this campus?
    What access to psychological services do children and families have on each of our campuses, and what interventions were made?
    What training is available and/or required?
    Is there mental health training in our schools starting at the elementary school level continuing through high school?
    I keep hearing stories about the lack of services, education, training and active intervention in the SMMUSD.
    Dr. Drati must be doing something proactive about this. With 20-25% of residents dealing with ongoing mental health concerns, every child, family member, parent, grandparent and neighbor should be demanding robust support and interventions from birth to death.
    Stacy Dalgleish
    ****************
    (Por favor perdona mi español. Pero en el condado de Los Ángeles, toda la comunicación en las escuelas debe estar en ambos idiomas.)

    Esto es muy perturbador.
    ¿Qué hicieron los profesionales de la salud mental en este campus?
    ¿Qué acceso a los servicios psicológicos tienen los niños y las familias en cada uno de nuestros campus, y qué intervenciones se hicieron?
    ¿Qué capacitación hay disponible y / o requerida?
    ¿Hay capacitación en salud mental en nuestras escuelas desde la escuela primaria hasta la secundaria?
    Sigo escuchando historias sobre la falta de servicios, educación, capacitación e intervención activa en el SMMUSD.
    El Dr. Drati debe estar haciendo algo proactivo al respecto. Con el 20-25% de los residentes lidiando con problemas de salud mental en curso, cada niño, miembro de la familia, padre, abuelo y vecino debería exigir un apoyo sólido e intervenciones desde el nacimiento hasta la muerte.
    Stacy Dalgleish

  3. I am so sorry for this family’s experience, but can absolutely identify. After the physical and verbal abuse my daughter suffered in kindergarten at John Muir, we were forced to pay for private school. Our concerns were escalated to the school board and superintendents and were ignored. We were not given the opportunity to switch her classes, nor were we given the option of switching schools. The last conversation involved a legal or administrative professional advising us that “the next time something happens…” After some loud expletives from me, I took my daughter quickly out of and away from that school, never to return again.

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