Los Angeles

Middle School Did Little to Stop Taunting of Autistic Boy, Lawsuit Alleges

The boy's mother alleges his middle school principle and others did little to address the bullying.

A lawsuit filed against Los Angeles Unified on behalf of an autistic boy alleges that his middle school principal and others did little to address his complaints of constant taunting by other students, who called him "white, fat lollipop kid" among other names.

The child is identified only as John Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Monday by his mother, who is listed as Joan Doe. The suit, which does not state the boy's age, alleges civil rights violations and negligence and seeks unspecified damages.

An LAUSD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The suit says the boy began attending El Sereno Middle School in the fall of 2016, and his mother soon noticed that the school consisted almost entirely of students who might not understand her son's condition or be receptive to having him there.

Shortly after the start of the school year, other students began taunting the boy with such comments as "white, fat, lollipop kid." A month later, a student began touching him on the side, stomach, back and face while continually goading him, according to the suit.

After his mother complained about the other students' behavior, a school counselor said "they would address the problem and the taunting and bullying would not happen anymore."

But the bullying continued the next month, and one student who had been warned to change his behavior told the plaintiff he was "going to get beat up for snitching," the suit says.

During a physical education class, some of the students who had previously been tormenting the boy opened his locker and threw his belongings all over the floor, according to his mother. In January 2017, five students accosted the boy and hit him in the back of his neck with a rock, the suit says.

Meetings with the school administration failed to bring about substantive changes, and by April 2017, the boy became reluctant to go to school out of fear of his safety, the suit says.

The boy was on campus two months later when a fellow student reached down his pants, but did not immediately report the incident because of the fear and anxiety the experience gave him, the suit says. The boy who accosted the plaintiff was later arrested and disciplined, according to the suit.

That same month, the boy and his mother met with the school principal, Joyce Darra, who said she knew nothing about the bullying and expressed her sorrow, according to the suit. About a week later, the principal wrote a letter to the boy's mother, explaining the discipline taken against the student who reached down her son's pants, the suit states.

"This letter failed to address any other incidents of bullying and failed to address any of the other students involved in the bullying of the plaintiff," the suit says.

As a result of his experiences with other students and the school, the boy's personality has changed, and he has crying periods and "other emotional breakouts," the suit says.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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