The U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into Lee County Public Schools after a student reportedly kicked an 11-year-old classmate with a disability in the groin area.
The Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation at the request of the boy’s father Jeremiah Singleton. He says a fellow student kicked his son so hard, his backside got infected and a hole the size of a quarter eventually opened up.
Singleton said it was reported that the same student hit his son two weeks prior to this incident and nothing was done about it. The father said his son has severely flat feet, which impact the way he walks and alleges the school system discriminated against the child because of his disability.
“The Division discriminated against the Student by failing to adequately respond to the report that he had been harassed and assaulted at the School by another student because of his disability,” his complaint, detailed in an OCR letter provided to us by Singleton, said.
Law enforcement records show that prosecutors charged a 12-year-old with assault in connection to the alleged attack at Elydale Elementary School in December.
Singleton says the boy is due in juvenile court next month.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Austin said the district investigated the situation and did investigate the alleged incident, but he did not comment further due to protections set forth in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Lee County Public Schools agreed to enter into what’s called Early Complaint Resolution after the U.S. Department of Education opened the complaint for investigation in January. Singleton says the effort to mediate failed.
This isn’t the first time Singleton has filed a civil rights complaint against the school system. Lee County Public Schools signed a resolution agreement last year to get into compliance after a 2015 complaint about lack of accessibility for people with mobility impairments at Rose Hill Elementary School, according to another federal letter. The Officer for Civil Rights letter said the district “expressed a willingness to resolve the complaint.”