A 9-year-old boy in Chicago was kicked out of his school by administrators and left alone in the cold for half-an-hour following an altercation with another student, his mother said in a lawsuit filed against the Board of Education and school staff members.
Yvonne Pinkston said she believes her son was punished for reporting that he was being bullied by a student at Fiske Elementary IB World School on the city's South Side.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Sept. 30 in the Northern District of Illinois, the boy and his family complained multiple times to administrators about the alleged bullying but staff "failed to take any action to protect [the child] and even became abusive towards him."
During an incident in March, the fourth-grader got into an altercation with a classmate after the other student reportedly hit him. Both boys were taken to the school counselor's office but Pinkston's son was disciplined and told to stay in the office while the other boy was allowed to return to class, according to the lawsuit.
The suit states that Pinkston's son left the office and was standing in the hallway when the school's security officer grabbed him by the wrists, talked to him "aggressively in his face" and then "yanked" him into the principal's office. According to the suit, the principal shouted at Pinkston's son and then had the security officer drag him toward the door and push him outside.
In surveillance video released by the family's attorney, Daniel Herbert, a staff member appears to grab the child and bring him into a room. Another video shows the staff member with his hands on the child as he walks him toward a door. The boy appears to be struggling against the staffer.
The principal, the security officer, and the school counselor "created a barrier" to keep the boy from coming back into the building, the suit states. The child tried to come back inside through other doors but they were all locked.
When he realized he couldn't get back in, he "began crying and looking for somewhere to stay out of harm's way."
The high temperature that day was 46 degrees and the low temperature was 27, according to the suit. Pinkston's son was wearing a short-sleeve polo shirt and khaki pants when administrators put him outside, it says.
Pinkson said at a news conference on Tuesday that the school put her son in danger.
"That's neglect," she said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "It's endangerment. Anything could have happened to my son out there, in that neighborhood."
According to the lawsuit, while Pinkston's son was still outside in the cold school staff members called 911 to report that a student had walked out of the building and was missing. A Chicago police officer arrived and found the child on the playground "crying, cold and terrified."
Pinkston's son had been out in the cold for about 30 minutes before the officer led him back inside, according to the suit. The document states that school administrators told the officer and the boy's grandfather that he ran out of the school.
The lawsuit also alleges that in the month following that incident, he continued to tell staff members that he was being bullied but the school "failed to take any action to protect" him. In April, the boy was transferred to another school.
The boy is left dealing with "emotional wounds" and is seeing a psychologist, according to the lawsuit. His mother is seeking a judgment in an amount to be determined by the court.
The Board of Education did not immediately return a request for comment. A Chicago Public Schools spokesperson told NBC News that the district was not made aware of the allegations until this week and the security officer involved "was removed from his position." The district is also reviewing the principal's actions, the spokesperson said in a statement.
"Every CPS student deserves access to a safe and welcoming school environment, and the district takes seriously all allegations of student harm." the statement read. "These allegations are deeply disturbing and we are fully committed to holding accountable any adult whose actions could have endangered a student."