2000-06-07 / Front Page
‘Cops and robbers’ to be played out in court Sayreville parents have filed a lawsuit against the district
‘Cops and robbers’ to be played out in court
Sayreville parents have filed a lawsuit
against the district
SAYREVILLE — The parents of one of the four boys suspended in March for playing what has been described as a game of cops and robbers at the Wilson School have filed a lawsuit against the district.
The lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday in Newark at the U.S. District Court of New Jersey by Michael Daily of Quinlan, Dunne and Daily, in Merchantville, claims that the Board of Education and officials of the Wilson School acted inappropriately when they suspended the kindergarten student.
Board President Kevin Ciak said the board could not comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that the district violated the kindergartner’s First, Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. In addition, the suit claims that the district violated the boy’s right to a free and thorough public education, according to state statute.
According to Daily, the lawsuit is seeking that the suspension be expunged from the boy’s school records.
"They [the district] really can’t reverse the loss of three days, but his record could be cleared," said Daily of the suit.
In addition, the suit is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress that the child suffered during the ordeal. Daily also claims that the suspension caused an inconvenience to the child’s parents and mental harm to the boy.
The punitive damages will cover attorney fees and injunctive relief, Daily said.
If the child’s family prevails, the lawsuit could make sure that the district is prohibited from giving out the same punishment to other students if the same event occurs in the future.
The suit stems from the March 15 suspension of four kindergarten students at the Wilson School.
The boys were suspended after playing a game of cops and robbers in the playground of the school during recess.
According to a press release issued by the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute on Friday, the boys used their fingers as guns during the game.
The boy in the suit was reportedly heard by another classmate as saying, "I have a bazooka and I’m going to shoot you," during the playing.
The event was then reported to a teacher and the boys were subsequently suspended by school officials.
The press release also claims that after the incident, the boys were removed from their classroom and taken to the school office where they were questioned regarding their conduct.
The release further states that the four boys were then, without notice to the parents, suspended for three days and sent home.
School officials have said they believe they acted appropriately.
The district contends that the boys were suspended based on the district’s zero tolerance policy when dealing with threats or violent behavior in the district.
According to Daily, he was approached by the child’s parents to represent the boy after the parents contacted the Rutherford Institute. The institute then referred the parents to Daily’s firm.
The Rutherford Institute is a nonprofit civil liberties organization which is known for defending cases regarding constitutional and human rights.
The institute is also providing assistance to Daily in the case and aiding in legal fees.