A 9-year-old boy was shoved out of an South Side school and into the cold by staff, who minutes later called 911 to report the boy was missing, according to a lawsuit filed this week.
A school surveillance video included as evidence in the suit shows a security guard at Fiske Elementary, yanking and shoving the boy, who was in fourth grade, toward an exit March 26 as the school’s principal and a school counselor looked on.
The school is located at 6020 S. Langley Ave., a few blocks southwest of the University of Chicago Medical Center, in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
Minutes earlier, the boy had been in a fight but was not the instigator, according to the suit. The boy’s mother asked that his name not be published.
School staff called 911 a second time minutes later to request an ambulance be sent because the fourth-grader had been scratching, biting and kicking, according to the suit.
“They lied,” family attorney Dan Herbert said at a news conference Tuesday.
An officer arrived and found the boy, who’d sat down outside the school and cried after finding every door to the school was locked, Herbert said.
CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said CPS leadership was made aware of the “deeply concerning allegations” Tuesday and moved within hours to remove the security guard from his position at the school.
Officials at CPS are also reviewing the principal’s actions and why the matter was not brought to the attention of leadership earlier, Bolton said in an email.
“Every CPS student deserves access to a safe and welcoming school environment, and the district takes seriously all allegations of student harm,” Bolton said. “These allegations are deeply disturbing, and we are fully committed to holding accountable any adult whose actions could have endangered a student.”
After the incident, the boy’s mother, Yvonne Pinkston, got a call from school staff telling her to come to the school, but she was in class at Purdue University.
The boy’s grandfather, Billy Pinkston, a Chicago police officer, also got a call and arrived at the school a short time later.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It was 40 degrees that day, 40 degrees outside. No coat, you know. Who does that to a child?”
Hope Pinkston, the boy’s grandmother, who works for Chicago Public Schools as a safety and security officer, was appalled by the video.
“I go to different schools every day, and I have never seen anything like this in the system,” she said.
The boy has enrolled in a different South Side school and is doing well but receives regular counseling due to his time at Fiske, his family said.
And a spokesman for the city’s Law Department said he couldn’t comment because he hadn’t seen the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.
The 9-year-old had transferred to the school after moving from Lafayette, Indiana, to live with his grandparents on the South Side.
Bullying began right away because he was viewed as not “hard” or “tough” by other kids, Herbert said.
After he was punched in the face, his mother called the school. When she checked back and found no one had been disciplined, Yvonne Pinkston said, she was told it was her fault for not following up enough and staying on top of the situation.
Herbert said school officials came to see the boy as a problem child because he continually complained he was being bullied, and viewed his family, who also complained, as a problem as well.
“This would not have occurred on the North Side of Chicago. It would not have occurred in my neighborhood,” Herbert said.
The lawsuit, which names the city as well as the the school principal, security guard and counselor, seeks unspecified compensatory damages.
“Someone needs to go to jail for it or something,” Yvonne Pinkston said. “That’s neglect. It’s endangerment. Anything could have happened to my son out there, in that neighborhood, no, anything could have happened.”