SANTA MONICA, Calif. - An 8-year-old boy, through his mother, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District alleging that the district failed to protect him from persistent and harmful bullying at Grant Elementary School in Santa Monica.
The claim was filed by the boy's mother, Sarah A. Mahir. It alleges that the district and its employees "ignored ongoing incidents of physical and verbal abuse against the student and violated his civil rights through deprivation of his rights to free speech, expression and protection from bodily restraint, harm, personal insult and injury," as stated in a press release from the family's attorney.
According to the claim, the student and Mahir consistently reported the bullying and torment to administration, but school officials failed to protect the student from "severe physical, emotional and mental injury."
“The torture began shortly after his first day of kindergarten and has continued unchecked for more than two years,” said Los Angeles attorney Christa Ramey, who represents the African-American student.
“One student told him he looked like ‘poop.’ Others called him ‘gay’ and said he would go to hell. Students threatened to kill him,” Ramey adds. “Sarah reported the bullying to the school, but was told she was ‘over-reacting’ and he must be doing something to attract the harassment. When her child began talking about suicide, however, Sarah knew she needed to seek the assistance of an attorney in order to save him.”
According to the lawsuit, between August 2017 and December 2019, students kicked, spat at and pushed the boy and verbally abused him daily. When his mother sought to move him into a different first-grade classroom at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, the school's principal, Christian Fuhrer, said she submitted the request too late. The abuse became so severe, Mahir reportedly removed her son from class for two weeks to receive psychological counseling.
The claim also alleges the district improperly trains its employees to handle bullies and responds inappropriately to student-against-student harassment and bullying.
“The school turned a blind eye to the bullying and then intimidated and embarrassed him when he asked for help,” said Ramey. “Instead of protecting a vulnerable child in their custody, the school staff further victimized him. Would you send your child to school there?”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for past and future expenses for medical treatment and other care for the claimant’s injuries; emotional trauma; future loss of earnings and ability to earn; and past and future damages for pain, suffering, loss of functions and other personal injury losses.
When FOX 11 reached out to Grant Elementary for comment, we were told, “We have no comment. You’re welcome to call the district office.”
District officials told FOX 11 that they were unable to comment on the lawsuit due to pending litigation.