CHICAGO (CBS) — A family is suing the Chicago Public Schools, accusing officials at Fiske Elementary School of kicking a nine-year-old boy out into the cold in West Woodlawn in March without a coat, after he’d repeatedly complained of being bullied.
Yvonne Pinkston said her son was in 4th grade at Fiske Elementary last year, after moving to Chicago from Indiana, and was bullied from the start, first by students and then by staff after he complained.
Her attorney, Dan Herbert, released surveillance video from the school, which shows a security officer dragging the boy into the principal’s office, and then forcing him out of the building as the school counselor and principal appear to supervise.
Herbert said it all happened after the boy complained about being bullied.
“They throw this kid out on the street … and they leave him there, and to make matters worse, they called the police and they reported that there’s a missing child. They report that some kid ran out of the school,” Herbert said.
The video showed the boy wearing only a polo shirt and khakis, while the security guard, a school counselor, and another adult who were there when the boy allegedly was kicked out were wearing sweaters and jackets inside. The boy’s family said it was only 40 degrees outside at the time.
The boy’s mother said he told her afterward that after he was kicked out, he went to all the other doors of the school to try to get back inside, but they were locked.
“They didn’t tell him anything. They just told him that he had to go, and he just sat there. He said that he was scared. He didn’t think anyone was coming,” she said.
Herbert said the boy had been repeatedly bullied and harassed, and the school responded to his complaints by repeatedly telling his mother to come pick him up, and ultimately kicking him out one day in March.
“The school didn’t like the fact that he was making complaints. The school, the principal, didn’t like the fact that his mother and his grandparents were doing what they were supposed to do, and that was hold the school responsible,” Herbert said.
The boy’s grandmother, Hope Pinkston, who said she works as a security officer for CPS, said the school’s counselor and principal called her the day of the incident, and claimed her grandson had run out of the school.
She claimed, when she asked if any adult was with her grandson after he left the building, the principal told her she directed her staff “not to chase after him,” even though he was only 9 years old, and alone on the streets.
“It was 40 degrees that day; 40 degrees outside, and no coat. You know, who does that to a child?” said the boy’s grandfather, Billy Pinkston, who said he’s a Chicago police officer.
Herbert said school officials also lied to the boy’s parents, claiming he had been fighting, scratching, and kicking other kids.
“It didn’t happen,” he said.
The family’s attorneys said they only received the surveillance video of the incident a week or two ago, so it wasn’t until recently that his parents saw what happened.
His mother said it was traumatizing to see what happened to her son.
“You actually get to see the truth, and to see that this is what they’ll do with a child,” she said. “It hurts that it’s my child, but I worked with kids for 4 ½ years; I don’t care how hard the day gets, you don’t do this to a child.”
Pinkston has filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education, the principal, the school counselor, and the security guard, accusing them of excessive force, unreasonable seizure, intentional infliction of emotional distress, creating a hostile educational environment, and more.
Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Emily Bolton called the family’s allegations “deeply disturbing.”
“Every CPS student deserves access to a safe and welcoming school environment, and the district takes seriously all allegations of student harm. These allegations are deeply disturbing, and we are fully committed to holding accountable any adult whose actions could have endangered a student,” she stated in an email.
Bolton declined further comment on the lawsuit.
Sources said the district was first made aware of the allegations on Tuesday, and the security guard has since been removed from his position, and CPS is investigating the principal’s actions, as well as why district leadership was not previously notified of the incident.