LEE COUNTY, VA (WJHL) – The U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into Lee County Public Schools earlier this year after a student reportedly kicked an 11-year-old classmate with a disability in the groin area, according to a federal letter sent to the parent.
The Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation at the request of the boy’s father. Jeremiah Singleton says a fellow student kicked his son so hard, his backside got infected and a hole the size of a quarter eventually opened up.
“It’s been reported that this same student hit my son two weeks prior to this incident and nothing was done about it,” Singleton said. “I’m very upset with the situation today. I’m a mad parent. They didn’t protect him from this bully. They didn’t protect him for his rights.”
Singleton says his son has severely flat feet, which impact the way he walks. He 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.
According to law enforcement records, prosecutors charged a 12-year-old with assault in connection to the alleged attack at Elydale Elementary School, which occurred in mid-December.
“I understand the child was hit particularly hard,” Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons said.
Singleton says the boy is due in juvenile court next month.
By email, Superintendent Dr. Brian Austin said the district investigated the situation.
“We are aware of and did investigate the alleged incident,” Dr. Austin said. “However, we cannot comment further due to protections set forth in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).”
According to Dr. Austin, he’s not at liberty to discuss the results of any investigation related to students or personnel. He chose not to comment about the civil rights investigation.
According to an Office for Civil Rights letter provided to us by Singleton, 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.
“I’m very upset with the whole situation, how the school would let that continue to go on,” he said. “As a parent, you don’t want to see your kid suffer.”
Gerald Gray says he is the attorney representing Singleton and his son.
“My focus is on the failure by the school system to protect this child,” Gray said. “They have a legal obligation. (The parents) have a right to expect and demand that the school system will protect them.”
This isn’t the first time the father’s 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.”
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