A New Jersey school district will pay $25,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of a 10-year-old Latino boy who says her son was racially harassed by other students for an entire school year.
The discrimination lawsuit filed in January 2019 against the Matawan-Aberdeen Regional School District in Monmouth County alleges the boy, who is Puerto Rican, was subjected to racial harassment by three classmates during the 2017-2018 school year while a student at Lloyd Road Elementary School in Matawan. It alleges the school district failed to act.
The first bullying incident occurred in November 2017 when a student called the boy a racial slur used against Latinos, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court of Monmouth County. The boy told his mother, who then complained to the principal's assistant and to a school counselor, but nothing was done, the lawsuit charges.
The three students continued to harass the boy on a daily basis, the lawsuit alleges. One of the students allegedly referred to him as "fat boy" and said in an online post that no one should be friends with him.
Another student tripped the boy while he was walking in the hallway and made several derogatory comments toward him, including referring to him as a "mistake," according to the lawsuit. The boy was also allegedly stabbed in the leg with a pencil in February 2018 by one of the students.
The boy's mother reported these incidents to the school principal, "and nothing was done to punish or deter these individuals," the lawsuit states.
The school district did not immediately return a request for comment.
In May 2018, the boy was in a bathroom when one of his harassers kicked a bucket at him that was underneath a urinal collecting urine and water, according to the complaint. The boy told his mother, who completed a harassment, intimidation and bullying report, detailing the harassment he had been subjected to the entire year, the lawsuit says. The boy was then suspended for three days, the lawsuit claims, and his mother was told by the assistant principal that it was because of a comment the boy made to his harasser during the bathroom incident.
"The harassment of plaintiff was purposeful, willful and intentional, and members of defendant's upper management and administrative staff were made aware of the harassment, and were willfully indifferent to the harassment," the lawsuit states.
Under the settlement agreement entered on Wednesday, about $17,500 will be deposited in a trust fund for the plaintiff.