The family of a 9-year-old Chicago student sued the city's school system this week, accusing staff members of manhandling the boy and forcing him out of the building in 40-degree weather without a coat.
Yvonne Pinkston, the boy's mother, said officials at Fiske Elementary School on Chicago's South Side threw her son out into the cold alone while only wearing short sleeves in March after he complained about being bullied by classmates, according to the lawsuit.
The Herbert Law Firm, which is representing the family, released surveillance video from the school, appearing to show a security guard dragging the boy into the principal's office and then forcing the fourth-grader out of the building as the school's counselor and principal watched from nearby.
"He went to all of the doors to see if they were open and all of the doors were locked ... so he just sat there and he said he cried," Pinkston told reporters Wednesday.
School staff eventually called 911 to request an ambulance, claiming the child, who was listed as K.S. in the suit, had been scratching, biting and kicking, according to the suit, which was filed on Monday. They also reported him missing, but the law firm said they fabricated the entire story.
"CPS officials at Fiske Elementary School lied to police after they shoved and pushed a nine-year-old boy onto the streets of Englewood, one of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods, with no coat in cold weather during the middle of the school day and claimed he was a 'missing person who was violent,'" the law firm said in a statement. "About 30 minutes later, police found the boy outside in the cold terrified and crying. The video shows that school officials lied."
The video shows the boy wearing a short-sleeved shirt and khakis in temperatures barely above freezing.
"I feel like everybody in the video that just sat here and just let it happen, nobody stopped it, someone needs to go to jail for it or something," Pinkston said. "That's neglect. It's endangerment. Anything could have happened to my son out there in that neighborhood."
The lawsuit, which names the city, the board of education and three school officials as defendants, claims the child was subjected to a hostile educational environment and alleges battery, excessive force and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
"K.S.’s experience at Fiske has left him with lasting, emotional wounds," the lawsuit said. "K.S. sees a psychologist weekly to help him overcome the trauma he endured at the hands of the school administrators at Fiske."
The family is requesting a jury trial.
The Chicago Public School Board said it was deeply disturbed by the claims levied by the family, but it declined to comment on the pending litigation.
"Every CPS student deserves access to a safe and welcoming school environment, and the district takes seriously all allegations of student harm," a spokesperson said. "These allegations are deeply disturbing, and we are fully committed to holding accountable any adult whose actions could have endangered a student."
The lawsuit comes as the school district grapples with several other lawsuits filed by parents, including one who accused teachers of bullying a fourth-grade special needs student relentlessly before he attempted suicide earlier this year.
Jamari Dent, 11, tried to hang himself in February after more than a year of chronic and violent bullying at the hands of students and staff members at two Chicago schools, according to a lawsuit filed in June. Dent, who attended Evers Elementary before transferring to Woodson Elementary, survived the Feb. 18 suicide attempt, but the incident left him with permanent brain damage and other life-threatening injuries.
The young boy's mother, Tierra Black, said she begged teachers, school officials and the school district to protect her son, but her complaints were ignored.
The district said it launched "a full investigation" into Black's "highly concerning" claims earlier this year.