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NAJEE’S NOTES: Teacher denied student’s request to use restroom

Outrage continues to grow in South Los Angeles as parents, community leaders and residents demand answers from Manhattan Place Elementary School Principal Evelyn Samos, who so far has refused to meet with community leaders.

Sonia Mongol is the mother of an 8-year-old boy who was humiliated and forced to sit in his urine-stained clothing after having an accident in class after his teacher refused to allow him to use the restroom.

The teacher is an older white male. And while the parents are unsure if race had anything to this with their son being mistreated by his teacher, there should be no question that this is a case of child abuse.

The student asked permission to use the restroom and the teacher refused. The student asked again a few minutes later telling his teacher he couldn’t hold it. The teacher response was to have the student urinate in a trash can in front of his classmates, exposing himself. The student ended up urinating on himself in the process.

The teacher had the student go to the nurse’s office and after no one was in the office to help the student, he then went to LA Best, the after-school program, to ask for help. The staff member response was to put two plastic trash bags on the student, which caused him further humiliation in front of his classmates who after the incident continue to tease and bully him, which resulted in his parents transferring him to another school.

We are demanding answers from the principal on why the parents weren’t called to bring him clean clothes or to send him home.

I called a press conference last week, joined by Mongol, activist Janet Kelly and members of the L. A. NAACP branch who were present for support. After the press conference, we knocked on the office door and were refused admittance with office staff locking the door and refusing to meet with us.

So far, school officials have refused to meet with us or return our phone calls. Undeterred, I immediately contacted a longtime colleague and friend, attorney Toni Jaramilla, who represents victims of abuse, harassment, discrimination and sexual assault.

I asked the parents to trust my advice. They did and hired Jaramilla, who is a fighter with a long history of filing lawsuits and winning against the Los Angeles Unified School District. Now that the parents had effective legal counsel, the battle continued as Jaramilla held a press conference earlier this week to announce government tort filing and civil litigation. 

This legal action is the first response that must be used in filing a lawsuit against LAUSD.

At the press conference, an emotional but articulate Mongol said her son humiliated having to wear the trash bags all day. Now, she said her son still gets teased and bullied over what happened.

The mother said her son asked again this week to go to the bathroom and was denied. When he was finally allowed to go, he was locked out of his classroom.

“New restroom laws need to be put into place,” she said. “Children should be able to go to the restroom whenever they have to go. Our child did not deserve this. No child deserves to be treated this way. We are outraged, but this will be used not just to make conditions better for our child but for our children.”

Jaramilla said “This case is as infuriating as it is heartbreaking. As parents, we have a right to expect that when we send our children to school, they will be educated and not humiliated. As the second largest school district in the nation, LAUSD serves a large and diverse population of families. While many of its teachers are excellent, it must be held accountable for the teachers and administrators who are abusive and who cause long-term psychological harm to our children.”

And I’m in full agreement with the parents and their attorney. No child should come to school and be humiliated by his teacher. This teacher should have protected his student. Instead, this teacher allowed his student to be mocked and ridiculed by other students.

Stay tuned for further developments.

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