MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A federal civil rights lawsuit alleges that a Twin Cities elementary school teacher segregated Black children in class and assaulted at least three of them, with one 7-year-old boy being choked in front of his classmates. Additionally, the suit claims that the district knew what was happening and failed to respond appropriately.
Parent Kirsten Lindsey is suing Roseville Area Schools and teacher Geraldine Cook for racial discrimination, unequal protection, battery, and negligent supervision. The suit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in St. Paul.
According to the lawsuit, Lindey’s son, who is Black and suffers from learning difficulties, was in Cook’s class when he attended Harambee Elementary School at the start of last school year. The boy has since transferred to another school.
Lindsey, who was a volunteer at the school, initially expressed concern with Cook after she reportedly told her during the first few days of class that she had trouble with her few Black students. Lindsey noted that Cook made the Black students sit in one section of the classroom.
Although Lindsey says she brought these initial concerns to principal Delon Smith, nothing was done. And later, after the teacher again complained to Lindsey about her Black students, the same thing happened: Lindsey brought her concerns to the principal, but nothing changed.
According to the lawsuit, Cook assaulted at least three of the Black students in her class during this time. One girl reported that Cook pulled on her arm so hard that it ripped her shirt. Another boy said he was assaulted and told the principal that Cook pushed, shoved and “smooshed the faces” of the Black students.
Lindsey’s son was strangled in class, the lawsuit alleges. A number of students told the principal that Cook choked Lindsey’s son for gurgling water. She also walked him to the principal’s office with his hands behind his back, although he were a criminal.
The lawsuit alleges that Lindsey only learned of the choking incident after Cook was removed from the classroom, which prompted her to ask questions. Smith, the principal, did not immediately tell her about the choking incident after he heard the students’ reports.
Lindsey had her son examined for psychological problems, the lawsuit says. The results showed he was suffering from recent trauma. After learning the details of the choking incident, Lindsey then transferred her son to another school.
Her lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount in compensation for the violation of the rights of her son and the alleged harms done to him.
WCCO-TV reached out to Roseville Area Schools for comment.