(CN) – Six families in Louisville, Kentucky, claim in a federal lawsuit that their kids’ middle school is overstuffed with children and overrun by bullies.
Rebecca Hargrove and representatives of five other families sued the Jefferson County Board of Education, superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens and other school employees on Thursday in Louisville federal court, alleging violations of their civil rights.
They claim the school system’s student assignment plan is illegal because black students are assigned to Crosby Middle School solely because of their race.
Transfers to another school are seldom allowed, the families allege, preventing what state law requires: “The maintenance of a safe learning environment where orderly learning is possible.”
Instead, according to the Louisville families, the children are subjected to an environment of anarchy.
Hargrove says her grandson was punched in the stomach, shoved into a locker and hit with a band stand.
Mark Cooke claims his eighth-grade daughter was attacked by a male student in the lunchroom, “leaving her a bloody mess on the floor.”
Melody Finn complained that her straight-A granddaughter’s grades began to suffer when she started attending Crosby.
When the girl complained, defendant counselor Delores Hughes “sent her back to class and forced her to sit next to the bully she complained about,” according to the lawsuit.
Finn’s other granddaughter reported that she was catcalled about her “white tail” at an afternoon dance.
“On the dance floor, girls her age were twerking the male students and pulling their pants down,” according to the lawsuit. “The assigned school supervisor did nothing.”
Vickie Santana stated that her son’s clothes were ripped and stolen, and he was under constant threats to fight.
Kim Seewer alleges her son attended Crosby for only five months but was beaten up and robbed of $20 and a clipboard.
While those students no longer attend Crosby, Bethany Littlefield says she cannot afford to send her son anywhere else.
In addition to being “verbally abused at all times,” the boy is frequently pushed down the stairs, according to the lawsuit.
Overcrowding is another problem at Crosby, the families say.
“Plaintiffs have reason to believe that Crosby Middle School has capacity for approximately 900 students, but over 1,400 currently attend,” the lawsuit states.
The families seek actual and punitive damages up to $5 million, as well as injunctive relief relating to the treatment of Littlefield’s son.
“Crosby Middle School has been continuously a failing school,” the complaint states. “In addition to the anarchy, the minor plaintiffs are forced to attend a failing school.”
Louisville attorneys Teddy Gordon, Vince Heuser, Andrew Mize and Peter Jannace are representing the plaintiffs.
Jefferson County Public Schools did not respond Friday to an emailed request for comment.