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Teacher Put Child in a Locker, Illinois Mom Says

CHICAGO (CN) - An Illinois school told a parent that her 4-year-old was missing when really the child's teacher had locked her in a dark locker, a new lawsuit alleges.

The alleged events occurred at Lincoln Primary School in Bellwood, Ill., on Oct. 10, 2014, according to the complaint that an anonymous mother filed Thursday on behalf of her child, described in the complaint only as Jane Doe.

Doe and her mother say teacher Tonya Butler "physically battered plaintiff, Jane Doe, and forced her into a locked locker in a classroom at Lincoln, in such a way that Jane Doe was imprisoned in the locker, terrified and alone, for an extended period of time and unable to get out of the locker, and unable to see due to the complete darkness inside the locker."

Another teacher, Julie Macino, allegedly witnessed the events, but the Does say she "failed to prevent, stop and/or otherwise intervene as Jane doe was physically forced into the locker."

"Once Jane Doe was locked inside the locker, Macino failed to act in any way to free Jane Doe from being imprisoned in the locker, as a result of which Jane Doe was locked in the locker for an extended period of time, terrified and alone, and sobbing in tears," the complaint filed in Cook County Circuit Court alleges.

When the mother arrived at the school to pick up her daughter, she was allegedly "shocked to learn her daughter was missing, only to subsequently learn her daughter was imprisoned in a completely dark, and locked locker."

The Does say employees of the school and Bellwood School District 88 knew about Butler's "habit and propensity to discipline students, such as plaintiff, Jane Doe, in a manner that exceeded reasonable standards of discipline, and violated Bellwood policies and guidelines, as well as Illinois law."

Bellwood employees failed to act on this knowledge, however, the complaint alleges.

The Does say Bellwood were "legally and statutorily obligated to immediately report the conduct of Butler to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), pursuant to the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act."

Had that agency been immediately notified "then plaintiff, Jane Doe, would not have been physically accosted and forced into the locker at Lincoln," the Does say.

And had Bellwood employees, "including defendant, Macino, either stopped defendant, Butler, from forcing plaintiff, Jane Doe, into the locker and/or immediately intervened once Jane Doe was forced into the locker, then Jane Doe would not have been forced to remain, terrified and alone, and sobbing in tears, inside the locker for an extended period of time," the complaint continues.

The Does seek damages under the Family Expense Act for battery, negligent retention; and emotional distress.Butler, Macino and the school district are named as plaintiffs. The plaintiffs are represented by attorney John Coyne.

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