The Warren Township School District is facing a racial harassment lawsuit filed by the parents of a biracial 2nd-grader who allege their son’s teacher sent him a package containing an afro wig and white paint that nobody requested.
According to The Daily Beast, Denise and Kevin Anderson described the teacher’s actions as an “act of intimidation.” The July 6 complaint states that the teacher, principal, Woodland School, the district, and district board are among the defendants being “sued individually and in their official capacities.” The complaint also accuses school officials of negligence for not launching an investigation into the incident.
Per the complaint, the student’s “appearance easily identifies him as a member of the mixed-race community” as his father is White and his mother is Afro-Latina. The minor, identified as “J.A.”, received the anonymous package via Amazon on July 9, 2021, the complaint stated, adding that administrators at Woodland School had the address details of students for remote learning during the 2021-22 academic year. Denise ultimately managed to establish the anonymous package was ordered and sent by Christine Rzasa, her son’s teacher, the complaint states. That was after Denise contacted Amazon’s customer service.
The minor’s parents said they subsequently got in touch with Woodland School Principal Jeff Heaney, the Warren Township School District, as well as the district board, after receiving the package. But the suit states that officials did not launch an investigation into what was alleged to be a violation of the state’s harassment, intimidation, and bullying law, The Daily Beast reported. The suit states that J.A. rather experienced a “hostile education environment” in retaliation.
“As a result, [J.A.] was so fearful, humiliated and intimidated that he suffered emotional and mental damages for which he had to receive therapy, change of schools and suffer other damages,” the complaint states. “Rzasa’s conduct can be described as nothing short of outrageous.”
The complaint further states that the Warren Township Police Department opted not to launch an investigation into the incident while a subpoena request that was sent to Amazon did not get any reply.
In a statement to the news outlet, the Warren Township School District said it “rejects hate and racism in all forms.”
“The Board of Education and the individual employees deny the allegations in the Complaint and intend to vigorously defend the case,” said communications coordinator Shannon Regan. “At all relevant times, the Board of Education’s primary concern is the education and well-being of its students.”
Besides demanding monetary compensation, the Andersons also want Woodland teachers to undergo sensitivity training.