*The family of a black middle school student in Kansas City, Kan. is suing school district officials over their response to his physical and sexual assault by a white student.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges that the black student was the victim of repeated harassment by a white student at Lansing Middle School, but was treated as the aggressor and punished after he fought back.
Both boys are in seventh-grade, and the incidents occurred last February at the school and on the school bus.
According to the allegations in the suit: The perpetrator groped the victim’s buttocks while they were in study hall. The victim told him to stop and told the teacher, who initially didn’t do anything. Only after continued harassment and continued requests to the teacher did she intervene, but only to tell the victim to move his seat.
Later that day, both boys were on the bus after school when the perpetrator grabbed the other boy’s penis, struck him on the head several times and kicked him in the face, causing a bloody nose. That’s when the victim defended himself and punched the other boy. School officials reacted to the incident by suspending the victim from riding the bus the next day, while not punishing the perpetrator.
When the victim’s parents met the next day with the principal and assistant principal, the officials described what happened as “hugging followed by a mutual fight.” The school officials also noted that their son had hit the other boy “hard.”
The school only acknowledged that the perpetrator was the aggressor after viewing bus video with the victim’s parents. They also said that the perpetrator had a “known history of bad behavior.” But even then, “they insinuated” that the victim was at fault because he was not in the “appropriate” seat on the bus.
The victim was also suspended from the bus again, while it is not known if the perpetrator was punished. Additionally, the victim was subjected to questioning about how he responded to the incident, which made him feel bullied and intimidated.
“These actions were done to defend student perpetrator and portray plaintiff (the victim) as the problem,” according to the suit.
The lawsuit alleges that the victim was discriminated against because of his race. It also accuses school officials of being indifferent to the victim’s plight, which has left the victim in fear of being subjected to future harassment and assault.
“Plaintiff was treated less favorably in the way in which he was disciplined, questioned and blamed despite the student perpetrator being the aggressor, because of his race and furthermore plaintiff was treated less favorably as compared to the white student perpetrator,” the suit alleges.
The suit is the second filed recently against the district.
The other involves an allegation of a female student being placed in the homeroom class of a teacher who had allegedly sexually harassed her.