BOULDER — The parents of a 9-year-old Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) student are suing the district, as well as numerous individuals, saying their son has been repeatedly bullied at school by the child of a district employee. The complaint also alleges that the school district has repeatedly protected both the student accused of bullying and the employee, while punishing their child.
The plaintiffs are white, while the district employee and her child are black.
The civil case filed in US District Court names the school district itself, the district’s superintendent, all the elected members of the board of education, as well as Whittier International Elementary School within the district and its principal. The employee/mother of the accused student in the complaint who Complete Colorado will refer to simply as “Mother” is not named as a defendant but is referenced by name throughout the complaint.
According to the complaint, “Mother” is employed at Whittier as a librarian and a substitute teacher as well as being a member of the district’s advisory committee, and leading the school’s Students of Color group.
Plantiffs in the 47-page complaint are unnamed, as is their child and the child who is accused of the bullying. Plantiffs are identified as John and Jane Doe, their child is James Doe, and the child accused of bullying is referred to as Sally Roe.
According to the complaint, James was a fourth-grader at Whittier Elementary School until recently when he suffered “physical assault, unfair and selectively enforced disciplinary processes, and other discrimination on the basis of race.”
A laundry list of accusations
The lawsuit lists 308 claims to support various charges against BVSD, including, but not limited to:
- Sally choked and/or otherwise physically assaulted James on at least three occasions.
- The mother used her position of authority to both shield her daughter from discipline after she physically assaulted James as well as “numerous other children thought the school.” The complaint calls the assaults a common pattern.
- Sally attacks other children and then blames them for being “racist.”
- The district then protects Sally from consequences at the request of her mother, and “condemns the children as “racist.”
- “Mother” launched a social media campaign against James and the entire Doe family calling James an “evil child,” a “trash kid,” and his parents “white liberal racists,” among other things.
- “Mother’s” attacks violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act by disclosing confidential information about James on her social media pages.
- “Mother;s” posts incited her followers to issue threats of emotional and physical violence against the Doe family.
- “Mother” “warned” other black parents about James and his “evil nature,” causing other parents to call the school concerned about their children being exposed to James.
- Sally has a documented history of violence against James and others — supported by an affidavit from James and Sally’s fourth grade teacher at Whittier, stating Sally suffers from “impulse control” that leads to frequent hitting, kicking or strangling of other students. The teacher stated that after these incidents Sally would accuse the person she attacked of “racism.”
- The school and district never investigated the allegations of violence against James by Sally, instead punishing James and forcing him to change classrooms. “During my time teaching, I have never seen a student forced to change classrooms as punishment,” James’ teacher said in her affidavit.
In a statement to Complete Colorado, BVSD Chief Communications Director Randy Barber said that while BVSD’s practice generally is to not comment on ongoing legal cases, he understands that this case raises issues that are deeply concerning to the BVSD community.
“BVSD strongly denies the claims asserted in this case. Our District strives to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all students, and our staff take very seriously any allegations of bullying or harassment. Plaintiffs’ claims lack merit; their request for emergency injunctive relief is unwarranted; and we look forward to responding to their allegations in due course,” Barber said. “For all of our students and families, if you are having concerns about bullying at your school, please talk to your School leaders. Find support and report bullying at BVSD’s web page under Help for Students.”
The complaint further alleges the incidents were reported to the Whittier principal and others in the district, but no action was ever taken. Instead, “Mother” continued to be employed and have access to James and other children in the school.
The parents say all of the actions led them to keep James at home since the end of January for fear of his safety and well-being.
“Ms. “Mother’s” campaign of character assignation against this 9-year old not only violates Colorado and federal statutory law; it expressly violates numerous district policies,” the complaint reads. “BVSD has taken no action to protect James and his family because of the color of their skin, which is white. Instead, BVSD has privileged one black teacher’s interest in personally attacking a child for perceived (but actually imaginary) ‘racism.’”
Hostile race-based environment alleged
The complaint says BVSD created a hostile school environment in the name of “anti-racism.”
“This overrides the application of BVSD policies against harassment, bullying, and intimidation, simply because the victim, in this case is a white student. This is illegal. In the common-sense words of the Supreme Court: ‘The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.’”
“Superintendent Anderson made ‘anti-racism’ an official district policy in 2020,” the complaint reads. “Superintendent Anderson wrote a district-wide letter warning all parents that ‘white members of our community cannot fully fathom the privilege that we have.’”
Further, the complaint alleges that BVSD placed a gag order on James’ and Sally’s teacher to “not speak to anyone about the bully reports filed” against Sally. Yet, “Mother” was not under “such gag order when she … filed a bully report against James.”
The complaint asks the courts for a jury trial and various levels of relief including:
- Ordering BVSD to stop engaging in discriminatory discipline policies, practices, and procedures against the Does and their minor child.
- Remove the bullying investigation and report from James’ record.
- Stop BVSD from disregarding district policies regarding “Mother”.
- Order the Facebook posts be taken down.
- Order a no contact order for “Mother” and James.
- Expunge James’ disciplinary record.
- Investigate the bullying against James by Sally and her mother.
- Pay compensatory damages.
- Pay punitive damages.
- Pay attorney fees.
The Does have asked for a jury trial. It will be heard by US District Court Judge Regina M. Rodriguez, a date for trial has not been made public as of this publication.
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