LocationAlhambra , CA
A family has filed suit against Alhambra Unified School District on behalf of their third grade daughter, a student at Garfield Elementary School, alleging that she was bullied, sexually abused and was injured after being pushed down a flight of stairs by male classmates.
The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The age of the plaintiff, who is identified only as Jane Doe, was not given. Specific damages were not outlined in the suit.
Late Memorial Day, the Alhambra Unified School District, which has not been served with the suit and only learned details of the allegations from news accounts, issued this statement from Superintendent Denise R. Jaramillo:
“The protection of every child is the absolute top priority of the Alhambra Unified School District. If ever we learn of any allegation of mistreatment or harm, the administration takes prompt action to investigate the situation and, when necessary, contacts local authorities.
“In this case, while we cannot discuss the details of this situation with the public, I can assure our school community that, as mandated, we immediately contacted local authorities, in this case the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Protective Services and the Alhambra Police Department.
“We urge every student and every parent to immediately contact their teacher and principal if they are ever concerned about any issue and that they swiftly and fully convey all details so we can take investigative action to safeguard our children.”
According to the suit, which was reported by City News Service and appeared in the Pasadena Star News, the NBC4 website and Patch.com, the incidents of abusive behavior began last October. The girl’s parents maintain that they complained to school officials but that the incidents continued and escalated, the suit states.
The two incidents of sexual abuse allegedly occurred, the CNS report states, when one of three boys involved in the incidents forced Jane Doe on three occasions to go with him into the girls’ restroom and on two of those visits sexually abused her, the suit alleges.
In what was apparently the initial incident last October, the boys demanded that the girl choose which one of them she preferred to have sex with, the suit stated, according to CNS. They also threatened to make her “twerk” on the lunch table if she did not decide, the suit said.
“Confused and not understanding what sex or twerking was,” Jane Doe told the boys she picked her mom,” the suit alleges. She was mocked, berated and harassed for this answer.
The girl was withdrawn and visibly upset, the suit states, and, after initial reticence, Jane Doe informed her mother what had allegedly happened at school. The girl’s parents say that they met with school officials last October, asking only that their daughter not be allowed to play with two of the boys allegedly involved in some of the incidents, the suit states according to the CNS report.
The suit details another alleged incident that month when the girl was pushed down some stairs by one of the boys, apparently striking her head. She was examined at a hospital and it was determined she had sustained a concussion, the suit states, calling the incident a “vicious attack.”
The mother again contacted the school, outlined the incident to officials and said she didn’t feel her daughter was safe around the boys.
Subsequently, the principal of the school, the girl and the girl’s mother signed what is termed in the documents as an official AUSD growth achievement plan. As part of the plan, it was stated that there would be no further contact between the girl and the accused boys, the lawsuit alleges.
According to the district statement, both the Alhambra Police Department and the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Protective Services were notified by AUSD and became involved. It was not clear when this occurred or what steps were taken by either department.
It was also not immediately clear in the CNS report if the school confronted the boys on these allegations but the suit maintains that none were suspended or otherwise disciplined. The suit further alleges that there was nothing done by school administrators or staff to end “the systematic bullying and sexual harassment of the girl.”
Neither Jane Doe nor one of the boys allegedly involved in the incidents are currently attending Garfield Elementary School, a source close to the district told Alhambra Source.
The family has incurred medical and psychological bills due to these incidents and those costs are likely to continue, the suit alleges.