LOS ANGELES (CN) – An English teacher with a “history of violent attacks” slapped the only black freshman at Malibu High School four times in the face, in class, then wrote a letter of apology saying that her intentions were “honorable,” the student claims in court.
Dionne Evans sued Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, Malibu High School, teacher Jennifer Gonzalez, and school principal Mark Kelly, in Superior Court.
Evans says in the complaint that she is “the only African-American student in her English class at Malibu High, and is the only African-American student in her grade at Malibu High.”
She claims that Gonzalez slapped her face during English on May 22 this year, after she told the teacher that she had left a class assignment (“a binder”) at home.
“Gonzalez came over to plaintiff’s desk and said ‘You probably don’t even have a binder,'” the complaint states. “Plaintiff repeated to Gonzalez that her binder was at home. Gonzalez then told plaintiff that she needed to ‘get her life together’ and to ‘straighten up.’
“Gonzalez asked plaintiff if she had seen the movie ‘Bridesmaids.’ Gonzalez then slapped plaintiff hard several times across her face, at least four times. Plaintiff’s face hurt from the blows. Plaintiff repeated that her binder was at home.”
Evans says she was “humiliated and embarrassed and wanted to cry and run out of the room,” but she “just kept her head down” and “avoid(ed) eye contact with Gonzalez and her classmates.”
Evans claims Gonzalez has a “history of physically striking her students.”
She claims that 16 years ago, Gonzalez attacked another student (nonparty) Andre Lewandowski by throwing a bottle of soda, which hit him in the genitals.
“The blow to Lewandowski’s genitals was so painful he collapsed on the floor, crying in pain. Gonzalez told him to ‘Get the fuck out of my class and go to the nurse’s office.’ Gonzalez also told the male student, ‘I hope you never have babies,'” the complaint states.
Evans claims that neither Malibu High nor the school district took any action against Gonzalez, and that Lewandowski is “still traumatized” by the attack.
The complaint adds: “Immediately prior to assaulting Lewandowski with the soda bottle, Gonzalez’ face turned red as she yelled and cursed at him. As Gonzalez was yelling and cursing, she had a pair of large, sharp scissors in her hand, which she used to repeatedly stab her desk as she yelled.”
After Evans’ mother reported Gonzalez’s attack on her daughter, the teacher again escaped without reprimand, but did write a letter of apology, according to the complaint.
“In her letter of apology, Gonzalez claims that she cares deeply for plaintiff and that her intentions in hitting plaintiff were ‘honorable,'” the complaint states.
Evans says that after the attack she was “segregated” in the library, and completed the school year at a different school.
She says the school district rejected her claim for damages.
Evans and her mother seek medical costs plus general, punitive and exemplary damages for battery, assault, negligence, negligent supervision, violation of civil rights, public school discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, libel and slander, and corporal punishment.
The school district told Courthouse News that it does not comment on pending litigation.
Evans is represented by Donald Karpel, with Zelner & Karpel.
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