Parents in Illinois are taking the rampant problem of their third grade son’s harassment to the courts. The exasperated parents are suing the minor, his parents, the school principal and the entire school district for alleged verbal, emotional and physical abuse inflicted on their son week in and week out by a tiny, third-grade attacker.
Reports FoxNews on June 20: “The lawsuit accuses the alleged bully’s parents of failing to discipline their child to stop the behavior.” Some news outlets are reporting the children are now in the fourth grade, but that the abuse started well over a year ago when the boys were in third grade together.
The parents behind the lawsuit are Deveri and Matthew Del Core, who say their son, Joaquin, was victimized by incessant and extreme bullying at Robert Frost Elementary School in Mount Prospect, near Chicago. Now that the school year is over, the parents are speaking out against the school's district and its inaction in handling what they say were severe terrorizations made against Joaquin – the sort that would land an adult behind bars.
The suit was filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court, and the family is seeking $50,000 in damages. Because the accused bully is a minor, the suit only identified the tormentor by his initials – “C.A.” The principal of Robert Frost Elementary was named as Jeffrey Brusso.
“There was everything from choking my son and threatening to kill him, said he was going to go home and get a knife and come back and kill him,” Deveri Del Core told 5NBCChicago. “My son would wake up at night screaming and crying, terrified, and did not want to go to school.” The suit filed by the Del Core details at least a dozen attacks made on their son.
There’s another twist to this story – Deveri Del Core was an employee in the Mount Hope cafeteria where her son went to school. She says that she was fired from her post literally within a few hours of the lawsuit going public.
According to NBCChicago.com, the termination letter from the school's cafeteria contractor said Del Core was fired “at the request of the client,” and that her actions taken against the school “have been detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of students and staff.”
The Del Cores said they did everything they could to address the bullying – sending letters to the district, filing police reports and meeting with the school officials. Nothing worked.
“The school said they were taking action and assured us it wouldn't happen again, and it would just keep happening,” Joaquin's father said. “The school would say ‘Yes we'll handle it, rest assured…’ and then it would happen again a week later.”
Attorney for the family, Joel Handler, said he takes abuse of minors very seriously, and would even seek to garnish the bully’s future income in remuneration to the Del Core family. “That (potential) judgment is good for 20 years,” Handler said. “As long as we know where he is, we would be enforcing the judgment against him.”
He goes on to say: “[The bully] has committed multiple assaults, multiple batteries, on my client. Since the school's not going to address it, and the parent presumably are not going to address it, then we are going to have to address it.”
The district would not comment on the lawsuit, nor on Mrs. Del Core’s firing, instead issuing the following statement to the media:
As a district, and at each of our schools, we value the safety and security of each and every one of our students and staff members, and take bullying prevention very seriously. We work diligently to provide a healthy, productive environment for all our students to learn and grow.
Handler said the statement is in complete opposition to the anathema that went on behind the school’s doors, and said he is now amending the suit to include a retaliatory charge of unjust firing against Joaquin’s mother.
For the Del Cores, they see their suit as a strike back against all bullies and parents who do not address the growing problem, and are hopeful that their actions send a message that goes far beyond the local Chicago district.
“Kids, all kids, need to be in a safe and healthy environment to learn in, because learning fuels the rest of your life,” Matthew Del Core said.
Deveri Del Core agreed, and even said she hopes the bully named in their lawsuit gets help. “This isn't just about our son anymore. This is about the child that's been bullying our son, that he gets the help that he needs, and that the school provides it for him.”