ROSEVILLE, Minn. — According to a federal lawsuit, a former teacher at an elementary school in Roseville allegedly assaulted at least three Black children, including choking one of the children in front of the class, and segregated them from other students in the class.
The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in St. Paul.
According to the lawsuit, the mother of one of the students involved was a regular presence at the school, volunteering to work with the administration, teachers and staff. As early as Sept. 6, 2019, the mother noticed the teacher was seemingly "overwhelmed and erratic, especially when working with or talking about the African-American students" in their class, according to the lawsuit.
The teacher allegedly told the mother she was struggling with a "particular group of students," while gesturing towards the Black students, who she made sit together in one part of the classroom, the lawsuit alleges.
Following the comments, the mother spoke with the principal of the school, but neither the principal nor any other administrator took any action to address the mother's concerns, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that in early October, another Black student in the same class went home with a torn shirt, and when asked what happened to their shirt, the student said the teacher ripped it while pulling on their arm.
Later that month, another Black student told the principal that the teacher has assaulted him, and told the principal that the teacher "doesn't like the Black kids," according to the lawsuit, adding that the teacher has pushed, shoved, grabbed, and "smooshed the faces" of other Black students in the class, the lawsuit alleges.
Through interviews with several students, the principal learned that the teacher had strangled one of the kids when she got upset with the child for gargling water. At least six students the principal spoke to confirmed that the teacher strangled the child, according to the suit. When the student, who has asthma, asked the teacher why they were choked, the teacher said because they had told the student to swallow the water and the student did not listen, the lawsuit alleges.
According to the student's mother, nobody at the school informed her about the incident. The suit says that the principal told the student not to tell their mother.
At around this time, the mother said she noticed changes in her child's behavior and had the child evaluated for psychological and psychiatric problems, the suit says. The evaluation showed that the child was showing signs of recent trauma, according to the lawsuit.
The mother later found out about the assault when the child told her that the teacher was no longer in the classroom, prompting her to ask questions that ultimately resulted in the principal informing her about the teacher's conduct toward her child, the suit says.
According to the lawsuit, the mother transferred her student to another school district as a result of the alleged incidents.
In a statement sent to KARE 11, a spokesperson for the school district couldn't comment on the specifics due to the pending litigation, but did say the teacher is no longer an employee of the school district.
"The safety and wellbeing of our students is our most important obligation. We take very seriously any allegation of a staff person harming a student or acting in a racist way," the statement reads.