On February 20, an eighth-grader at Miami Beach's Fienberg-Fisher school got into what amounts to a food fight. Another student doused him with water. He threw milk back. The students' substitute teacher made the boys clean up the mess and call their parents, and that seemed to be the end of it.
But the next day when their regular teacher returned to school, the boy's family says, the teacher was angry. A new lawsuit from Alma Felix, the mother of the boy who threw his milk, says her son's eighth-grade teacher slammed the 13-year-old's head into his desk five times and then shoved him to the ground. Felix's son, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is identified in the lawsuit by his initials, J.A.F.
"The public school system of Miami-Dade County subjected an eighth grader to intimidation, bullying, harassment, abuse, public humiliation, and assault and battery, not by his classmates, but by his teachers and school," Felix's complaint says. "When the torture against J.A.F. was over, J.A.F. was left beaten, bloody, bullied, traumatized, belittled, disrespected, and inflicted with dental damage and other injuries."
John Schuster, a spokesman for the school district, declined to comment on the case, citing the pending litigation.
The rest of the lawsuit outlines the severe punishment Felix says her son endured at the hands of school staff that day. According to the teen, the teacher rounded up the school's security officer, who yelled to the eighth- grader, "It's prison time, bitch!" and "Welcome to Fienberg,
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The student says the teacher and security officer then ordered him to remove his shoes, socks, and sweater and paraded him around the class to apologize to his classmates. After instructions to tell the class, "I am sorry for being a bad kid," Felix's son says he was shoved around the room while the teacher and guard taunted him, calling him a "pussy" and a "bitch."
Alex Tirado-Luciano, the attorney representing Felix and her son, says he has no evidence that the two school employees were ever disciplined.
According to the lawsuit, the eighth-grader did not return to school after the embarrassing and physically painful incident. Since the assault, Tirado-Luciano says the teen has suffered from panic attacks and psychological trauma requiring treatment.
"The most devastating part of all of this is the fact that the people who he and his parents trusted to protect him are the ones who failed him," Tirado-Luciano tells New Times. "This will have long-lasting ramifications in this boy’s life, and we hope to shed some light on this incident to provide not only a bit of justice to this family but also to ensure this never happens to anyone ever again."