CHICAGO (CN) - Black parents claim that a private school administrator duct-taped their 4-year-old son's hands together for refusing to take a nap, and justified the punishment by saying, "This is how it ends up with kids getting guns."
Harold and Cara Irving and their children sued Pui Tak Center, Pui Tak Christian School, Chinese Christian Union Church, Pui Tak's Director David Wu, Principal Sylvia Wu, and Vice Principal June Gin, in Federal Court.
The Irvings say their children attended Pui Tak Christian School in Chicago's Chinatown neighborhood for the 2010-2011 school year.
"On or about December 8, 2010, Harold received a telephone call from the school advising him that Jeremiah was in Sylvia's office. The reason given for Jeremiah being in the principal's office was that he refused to take a nap and that he didn't want to wash his hands," the complaint states.
"Harold advised the school that he would come and pick up Jeremiah. When Harold arrived at the school, he found Jeremiah standing with his wrists and hands taped together with duct tape. Harold was outraged, but for the sake of Jeremiah, was able to calmly remove the duct tape from his son's wrists and hands. Harold then removed his children from the school that day."
The father says Jeremiah told him that school administrators first bound his hands with blue painters tape, but it wasn't strong enough, so they used duct tape. The boy said that "June had held his hands while a teacher's aide affixed the tape," according to the complaint.
The Irvings claim that "Pui Tak treats similarly situated students who are not black, differently.
"On the following day Harold returned to the school where he spoke with June. June advised Harold that he would have to tell Jeremiah 'it is not acceptable not to listen, and that this is how it ends up with kids getting guns.'
"Junes' treatment of Jeremiah and subsequent statements instead to justify said treatment were racially motivated and was an attempt to stereotype and racially profile Jeremiah, a black boy, as a criminal.
"In restraining the 4-year-old Jeremiah with duct tape and making such statements to Harold, June's actions were all based upon race, willful, malicious and in bad faith, with an improper motive of depriving Jeremiah of his liberty and with a malicious intent of violating Jeremiah's civil rights," according to the complaint.
Earlier that year, the family says, Jeremiah's sister, Zaria, "was attacked by a group of her classmates who knocked Zaria to the ground. While several students held Zaria down, other students kicked, punched and scratched Zaria. ...
"Judy denied and continued to deny the occurrence of the event until Harold was presented with letters of apology written by the school students who attacked Zaria," according to the complaint.
The Irvings say Zaria was subjected to "repeated teasing and taunting by her classmates because she is black."
The parents say the principal's actions caused them "severe emotional distress, mental anguish and fear over the safety and well-being of [their] children while in school, embarrassment, psychological damages, and the deprivation of [their] civil rights."
They seek punitive damages of 2 percent of the defendants' net worth for civil rights violations, conspiracy, negligent supervision, and emotional distress.
They are represented by Calvita Frederick.
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