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.