The parents of a student attending District 2 in Sumter, South Carolina have filed a lawsuit stating that the child was repeatedly bullied and school officials did not take action to correct the problem, resulting in gross negligence.
The parents, Tina and Brian Christmas state that their son Joshua now 13, was bullied by another student while the boys attended both High Hills Elementary School and Hillcrest Middle School. Named in the lawsuit are the bus driver and the vice principal of Hillcrest. The lawsuit states that Joshua suffers from a condition called Benign Essential Tremor Syndrome in which his hands tremor. He is also easily frightened and has difficulty dealing with stressful situations.
The lawsuit states that his condition is one of the reasons Joshua is continually bullied. Tina Christmas is administrative assistant to 3rd Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Young, while his father Brian is a Sumter Police Department detective and fire department captain.
The lawsuit claims the boy was initially attacked in 2006 on a bus by a bully who bit, strangled, bruised, and kicked the child, which lead to him bleeding. Joshua did not fight back because he did not want to get in trouble. The boy faced suspension from the bus but continued to threaten Joshua and his mother’s life. Then, Tina Christmas contacted police who involved the state department of Juvenile Justice. The boy was forced to write an apology and Joshua was given a one year restraining order against the bully.
The boy moved out of the area but transferred back for the 2009 to 2010 school year. This caused the continuation of the bullying and the boy encouraging others to act out against Joshua.
Tina Christmas contacted to the school and spoke to the vice principal. According to the lawsuit, the child was threatened, frightened and bullied. According to the lawsuit, vice principal Richburg stated, “I would take a child home myself before putting him on the bus afraid.” The parent asked that she be contacted if he was afraid to ride the bus home.
On April 16th, the boy threatened Joshua throughout the day and stated he would beat him up on the bus. Joshua went to the principal and asked to call his mother. Joshua’s request was denied even after the student begged not to be put on the bus. He was taken to the bus by the vice principal and the bus driver was alerted to the situation. The boy punched Joshua in the face on the bus, and Joshua fought back. The bus driver called police but refused to stop the fight and told other children on the bus to “let them fight.”
Police were not told about threats against Joshua and both boys were removed, handcuffed and placed in patrol cars. School officials did not notify the parents but the Christmas’s learned of the arrest from other students.
The lawsuit alleges that Joshua was traumatized by the events and was physically ill due to the situation. The following school year, Joshua was in two classes with the bully, which continued his suffering including vomiting and headaches. The parents believe that the school is negligent in protecting their son against the bully.
If you are a California school administrator with a question about student/teacher safety, special education, accommodations, student rights, free speech or discipline, or school employment law, feel free to call attorney Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 818-461-8500 end_of_the_skype_highlighting. There is never a charge for an initial consultation and we can help you choose the best direction to resolve any school district issue.