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, by and through her next friend, Kenya Atkins; CHARLES R. by and through his next friend Cassandra White-Robinson; MALCOLM R. by and through his next friend Cassandra White-Robinson; KERMINIA W. by and through her next friend Penelope Wellington; DEANDREW C. by and through his next friend, Laura Alexander; BRIANNA R. by and through her next friend Adrienne Weston; DOMINIK J. by and through his next friend Donna Jackson; KERMITON W. by and through his next friend Penelope Wellington; ALEX S., by and through his next friend Joanne White; ALTON S., by and through his next friend Joanne White; KERMIRIA WELLINGTON PLAINTIFFS, v. CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS, CHICAGO BOARD OF EDUCATION MICHAEL SCOTT, Indiv. & Prof. Capacities DEFENDANTS. ) ) Civil Action: 09cv7068 ) Judge Robert W. Gettleman ) Mag. Judge Geraldine Soat-Brown ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )
FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR INJUNCTIVE AND EQUITTABLE RELIEF NATURE OF THE COMPLAINT This is an action for injunctive, declaratory and equitable relief.1 Plaintiffs, school-age children\teenagers, each allege that they have been deprived of their [Constitutionally protected] property right to a public education without Due Process of law, in violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs’ contend that since the death of Derrion Albert on September 24, 2009, they have been constructively barred from their public high school (Fenger),
It is intended that a Motion for Injunctive Relief (with one or more affidavits attached) will follow the filing of this complaint.
because they have been unable to attend classes, as Fenger Public High School is too dangerous; and that school administrators and school security are unable and unwilling to provide a public education for plaintiffs or to insure the safety of plaintiffs from violent, physical attacks on school grounds. Derrion’s video recorded death prompted the latest round of violence at Fenger H.S. that has not ceased since the afternoon that 16 year-old Derrion was savagely beaten to death with nail-spiked railroad boards as he left Fenger H.S. Plaintiffs state that they fear for their lives and that school officials have refused to allow plaintiffs promised transfers from the Fenger High to other public high schools. JURISDICTION & VENUE Jurisdiction of this court arises under 28 U.S.C. secs. 1331, 1343(a), the 5th and 14th Amendments of the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. 1983. PARTIES (1) Plaintiff Kenyatta B., a natural person, is 16 years old and a student at Fenger High School. She resides at 650 East 131st Street, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (2) Plaintiff Kermiria Wellington, a natural person, is 18 years old and a senior at Fenger High School. She resides at 132-37 South Langley Street, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (1) Plaintiff Kermiton W., a natural person, is 15 years old is a student at Fenger High School. He resides at 132-37 South Langley Street, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (2) Plaintiff Charles R., a natural person, is 15 years old and a student at Fenger High School. He resides at 130-52 South Drexel Avenue, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (3) Plaintiff Malcolm R., a natural person, is 16 years old and a student at Fenger High School. He resides at 130-52 South Drexel Avenue, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (4) Plaintiff Michael D., a natural person, is 16 years old and a student at Fenger High School. He resides in Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action.
Plaintiff Dominick J., a natural person, is 15 years old and a student at Fenger High
School. He resides at 306 East 131st Place, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (6) Plaintiff Alex S., a natural person, is 15 years old and a student at Fenger High School. He resides at 308 East 131st Place, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (7) Plaintiff Alton S., a natural person, is 14 years old and a student at Fenger High School. He resides at 308 East 131st Place, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (8) Plaintiff Brianna R., a natural person, is 15 years old and a student at Fenger High School. She resides at 308 East 131st Place, Chicago, IL and was a student at Fenger High School during all relevant times of this action. (9) (10) (11) S. (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17) Next Friend Laura Alexander is a legal adult and the mother of Plaintiff DeAndrew C. Next Friend Penelope Wellington is a legal adult and the mother of Plaintiffs’ Next Friend Kenya Atkins is a legal adult and the mother of Plaintiff Kenyatta B. Defendant Chicago Public Schools is a part of the City Chicago (an incorporated Defendant Chicago Board of Education is the governance arm of Defendant Defendant Michael Scott is the Chicago Public Schools Board President and has his Next Friend Donna Jackson is a legal adult and the mother of Plaintiff Dominick J. Next Friend Adrienne Weston is a legal adult and the mother of Plaintiff Brianna R. Next Friend Joanne White is a legal adult and the mother of Plaintiffs’ Alton and Alex
Kermiton W. and Kerminia W.
municipality) government and is headquartered at 125 South Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60603. Chicago Public Schools and is headquartered at 125 South Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60603. offices at headquartered at 125 South Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60603. FACTS (1) (2) (3) All plaintiffs are students at Fenger High School in Chicago. All plaintiffs, except for Kemiria Wellington (not to be confused with Keminia Wellington) All plaintiffs are black and or of African descent. 3
are minors. Kemiria Wellington is a senior at Fenger H.S. and recently became 18 years-old.
(4) (5) (6)
All plaintiffs reside in an area of Chicago known as Altgeld Gardens. Upon reasonable information and belief, many residents of Altgeld Gardens and its Children\teenagers of high school age who reside in the Altgeld Gardens community\area
surrounding neighborhoods live below the poverty line. are “bused” [sic] to Fenger H.S., which is approximately 5 miles (in city traffic) from the Altgeld Gardens community. (7) The high school that is understood by plaintiffs and their parents to have been zoned for Altgeld Gardens students (the plaintiffs) and within walking distance of the Altgeld Gardens community is “George Washington Carver H.S.” (8) (9) Plaintiffs have been denied admission to George Washington Carver H.S; although, this is In the not so distant past, the City of Chicago converted George Washington Carver H.S the high school that they understand to be for their community members of high school age. (Carver) to a military academy. As a result, most the school’s seats were lost and most Carver students were re-zoned for Fenger High School. (10) (11) (12) Upon reasonable information and belief, George Washington Carver H.S. has a capacity Children from the Altgeld Gardens community (the plaintiffs in particular) are physically Plaintiffs’ assert that they are victims of violence at Fenger H.S. because of the fact that for as many as 1000 students; however, presently, there are approximately 500 in attendance. attacked, frequently, while on Fenger School grounds. they live in public housing (and that there is negative stigma associated with living in public housing). (13) The tensions at Fenger H.S. between the students who live in the “projects” and the students who do not live in the projects led to the September 24, 2009 horrific beating death of 16 year-old Fenger student Derrion Albert as he walked from Fenger High School. The cell phone recorded video showing a healthy Derrion and seconds later a bloody child facing his death, is presently widely circulated on the Internet. (14) (15) Chicago Public School officials are aware of the tensions between the two groups, Plaintiffs’ and brothers’ Alton S. and Alex S., 14 and 15 respectively, assert that they were however, have been negligent in addressing the tensions. savagely beaten at Fenger H.S. on or about October 29, 2009 and that Chicago Public School Security did not nothing to protect them.
The boys assert that one week later on November 5, 2009 while they walked in the
cafeteria they were attacked AGAIN, this time by approximately 10 male students. The boys described having been pinned against the wall with such force that they could not fall to the ground; rather, as CPS Security watched, the attacking students took turns punching and kicking the boys as they let out shrieks of pain. Alex, suffered a swollen arm and Alton experienced incessant vomiting well into the late night of November 5, 2009 and into the early morning of November 6, 2009. This time, CPS penalized the bloodied boys and drove them home. Presently, the children fear for their lives and will not return to Fenger H.S. (17) (18) (19) Joanne White, Alex and Alton’s mother, states that since Derrion’s death, she has been Mrs. White states as to why she is keeping Plaintiffs Alton and Alex home: “I don’t want to Plaintiff Brianna R. is a petite 15 year-old female who states that she has attended school told repeatedly by CPS official David Pickett that he would help get her children out of Fenger. be Derrion Albert’s mother—I don’t want to get that call.” only 3 or 4 times since Derrion was beaten to death. She states that since Derrion’s death, the school is even more out of control and that school administrators, security and the police are part of the problem. She states that none of them protect her from violence which Brianna says is constant and makes learning impossible. Brianna wants to return to school, but cannot for reasons which include that children are often locked out of Fenger by Fenger officials. (20) Plaintiff Dominick J. was jumped and beaten inside of Fenger H.S. one week before Derrion was beaten to death. Dominick J.’s alleged offense: he lived in a project. Next Friend Donna Jackson, Dominick’s mother, asserts that right before Derrion’s death, she spoke directly with an agent of Fenger H.S. and that she asked that Dominick be transferred to another high school. She was told to obtain transfer papers from the high school to which she wanted Dominick to transfer. (21) She went to Gwendolyn Brook Preparatory Academy. She was promptly turned away--told that no transfer papers would be given to her. Ms. Jackson then telephoned Morgan Park Academy. She was told that transfer papers would not be given to her. Lastly, she telephoned George Washington Carver H.S. Again, she was denied transfer papers for her son Dominick. (22) Next Friend Cassandra White-Robinson was horrified by Derrion’s gruesome death and the constant physical attacks upon her children at Fenger H.S. On the Monday after Derrion’s death (September 28), she went to Fenger high school and spoke directly with Assistant Principal Ali Muhammad. She told him that she wanted to transfer her sons (Plaintiff Malcolm R. and 5
Plaintiff Charles R.) from Fenger to Carver. He told her that it was possible, but that she needed to go to Carver to obtain a “Transfer Letter.” (23) Accompanied by and with other parents who also sought Transfer Letters, she arrived at Carver on the afternoon of September 28 and talked directly with Principal Tibitt. Ms. Tibitt reportedly said to Ms. White-Robinson: “no kids can be accepted.” (24) Next Friend Ms. Cassandra White-Robinson went to the CPE Headquarters and spoke directly with CPE president Michael Scott. He promised to help her and directed her and others to make flyers (attached as an Exhibit 1) to announce that he and Ron Huberman, CPS Superintendent, were coming to Altgeld Gardens on October 30, 2009 at 12:00 noon, for matters germane to helping parents get their children out of Fenger High School. (25) (26) Ms. Cassandra White-Robinson and other plaintiffs and next friends report that the flyers Ms. Cassandra White-Robinson and other plaintiffs and next friends report that Mr. Scott were made and distributed. never showed; rather, at about 12:00noon on the day of, as hundreds of residents waited, the City caused the affixing of the attached cancellation notice (Exhibit 2). To date, no explanation has been given for the cancellation. (27) (28) Plaintiff Charles R. stated of his experiences at Fenger: “I get jumped every day in the On November 8, 2009, Plaintiff Kenyatta B. said that she does not want to be transferred lunchroom, the hallway, everywhere. I’m just tired of it. I want to go to a regular school.” from Fenger, instead that Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department should provide better security. She stated, as did all of the plaintiffs, that Chicago Public Schools security does little to stop fights at Fenger. She added: “Fights happen, and sometimes security will stand there and watch.” (29) Fifteen year-old Plaintiff DeAndrew C. has not been to school since the afternoon that Derrion’s bloody corpse lay on a Chicago street. DeAndrew stated on November 8, 2009: “I feel like my life is in danger, so I’ll stay out as long as I have to. I’m just tired of fighting, I’m scared of getting hurt.” (30) Defendant Michael Scott is sued in his individual and professional capacities.
COUNT 1: DEPRIVATION OF PLAINTIFF’S FOURTEENTH AND FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS (Due Process) IN VIOLATION OF 42 U.S.C. 1983 (1) Plaintiffs repeat, re-allege and incorporate by reference, the allegations in aforementioned
paragraphs with the same force and effect as if herein set forth and that Paragraph 1 for Count 1 is the Fact’s section above. (2) (3) Plaintiffs’ have a Constitutionally protected property right to a public education. Under color of law and with intent to deprive, the defendants deprived (and continue to
deprive) plaintiffs of their property right [by way of the 5th and 14th Amendments] to a public education. (4) Under color of law and with intent to deprive, the defendants deprived plaintiffs of their property right by denying them a public school environment conducive to learning and a high school that they can physically access. (5) (6) of Law. (7) (8) Plaintiffs’ assert that the defendants condone mob attacks that include defendants allowing Plaintiffs who have attended some classes at Fenger since Derrion Albert’s death have other students to strike, punch, kick and savagely beat plaintiffs on school property. been detained by CPS security and deprived of a public education, although, they are the victims. Arguably, the detainment is a tortiuos action, false imprisonment. CPS and CPE reportedly hold students in locked rooms. Hallways are secured by heavy chains and gates, so much so, that if access out of the building were needed by children pursuant to an event such as a fire, students would be trapped. (9) Since Derrion Albert’s beating death, other plaintiffs, out of reasonable and justified fear have chosen not to enter upon the school property because they say it is not safe. They assert that Chicago Public Schools has done little to nothing to insure their safety from a similar attack. (10) Still, Fenger H.S. was notably violent before Derrion’s death. One plaintiff Dominick J. and his mother, Next Friend Donna Jackson, had requested a transfer letter from Defendant CPS one week before Derrion was killed, and that Dominick was denied a transfer letter without Due Process of Law. One or more plaintiffs have been denied entry (by CPS and CPE officials) to Fenger H.S., Plaintiffs have been denied their property right to a public education without Due Process although, the plaintiffs are enrolled students.
All other plaintiffs’ have sought transfer letters but have been denied without Due Process
of Law. The facts and circumstances for which the above captioned matter concerns make grants or denials of transfers a Due Process issue. (12) (13) Defendants acted under color of law to deprive plaintiffs of rights secured by the CPS President Michael Scott was acting under color of state law when he deprived the Constitution, namely, plaintiffs’ property right to a public education by way of the 14th Amendment. plaintiffs of clearly defined rights property rights secured by the United States Constitution or laws of the United States, namely, a right to a public education, especially, when he cancelled the Due Process event scheduled for October 30, 2009. (14) (15) The Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Board of Education is responsible for There is express custom and practice (represented by an unwritten policy) held by the14th amendment violation in issue. Defendants’ Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Chicago Board of Education (CPE) that has caused and continues to cause the deprivation of plaintiffs’ property right to a public education. (16) The widespread practice and custom is defined as: 1. CPS security doing little to nothing to stop violence directed at children on CPS property, rather, that security watches the horrific violent acts; and when CPS security responds, its methods are often violent, without good judgment; without common sense; and without discretion; and 2. the omissions by CPS and CPE officials to do anything substantive to stop horrid physical, abuse (daily beatings) of children on CPS property, is so common that it has the effect of a written CPS and CPE policy; (17) And that the constitutional injuries that have resulted from CPS school security and CPE school officials widespread practice and custom, were caused by a person with final policymaking authority, namely CPE President Michael Scott. (18) As a result of defendants’ actions, plaintiffs have suffered harm which includes, physical injuries; having fallen behind in course work (and it is likely that some of the plaintiffs will have to repeat a grade); plaintiffs’ unable to attend classes; child care costs to plaintiffs’ and their families; and mental stress. WHEREFORE, Plaintiff seeks injunctive relief that either orders defendants to reasonably protect plaintiffs from violence at Fenger High School (to the extent that plaintiffs are not beaten daily as security officers omit to act); and/or to afford plaintiffs due process pursuant to a stratagem that will allow students to apply for and ultimately attend other Chicago public high schools; and that plaintiffs seek judgment against the defendants jointly and severally, for actual, general, 8
special, compensatory damages in the amount of $1.00 and such other relief deemed to be just and equitable. Counsel for plaintiff’s (undersigned) does not make a request for attorney’s fees because of the fundamental social issues for which the above captioned matter concerns. Respectfully Submitted, November 12, 2009 s\Christopher C. Cooper, ESQ., PHD. Counsel for Plaintiff Licensed in the U.S. District Court for Northern Illinois Law Office of Christopher Cooper 3620 WEST 80TH LANE, MERRILLVILLE, IN 46410 Tel: 312 371 6752 or 219 228 4396 FAX: 866 334 7458 E-Mail: email@example.com
Committee for Safe Passage to School
Your Presence is Very Important for This I\1eeting at eYC/Community Building
Parents and Guardians:
The Board of Education is coming to Altgeld: Ron Huberman (School Superintendent), Michael Scott (President of CPS Board) and their staff people.
This is the only chance to get Carver Military School back to the community. Our children would be allowed to attend Carver not as a military school but as a general course school. Your presence wiil determine if it would be returned or stay as a luilitary school. Your presence will make this difference! If you don't attend this very important meeting, WE LOSE!
When: Where: Time:
Friday, October 30, 2009 CYC /Community Building 951 East 132nd Place 12:00 Noon
Please keep your child home on this day for safety reasons and to attend this meeting. This is day before Halloween and we want our children safe!
For further information and to confirm ou attendance call us (773) 840.4618. Refreshments will be served! ;
, . lAC TO UNFORSEE
THE MEETING WITl1CHICAGO PUBLIC '
;CHbOL BOARD HAS BEEN CANCELLED.
THE MEETING WILL BE RESCHEDULED I I
AT A LATER DATE. K YOU FOR YOUR COOP
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