Los Angeles Unified is being sued for negligence by a Van Nuys High School student, who says he was repeatedly harassed and then stabbed in a campus bathroom in 2017 by a classmate known to be an affiliate of a gang often cited by President Donald Trump to justify his tough immigration stance.
The plaintiff, now 17, is identified only as A.C. in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Monday on his behalf by his adult guardian. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
The LAUSD’s chief communications officer, Shannon Haber, said the district “has not been served with the formal complaint. It will be thoroughly reviewed once we receive it.”
The plaintiff first became the target of his assailant — identified in the lawsuit as J.O., an alleged affiliate of the MS-13 gang –in January 2015 when both were students at Van Nuys Middle School, according to the complaint. The president has cited violence committed by MS-13 members to justify his hard-line immigration policies.
J.O., a year younger than A.C., lived in the same neighborhood as the plaintiff and began to traumatize him by sending the older teen multiple death threats through text messages, the suit alleges. After school, J.O. often arranged for an older MS-13 gang member to threaten the plaintiff, according to his court papers.
A.C. reported the alleged threats to officials at his middle school, but they did little to protect him, according to the complaint.
In April 2016, security officers took A.C. out of his classroom after telling him that someone was planning to kill him at school that day, the suit states.
“Plaintiff was traumatized and immediately knew the threats were coming from J.O.,” the suit says.
A.C. was transferred without any input from his parents to Madison Middle School in North Hollywood, but he continued to receive text threats from J.O., the suit states. A.C. presented the texts to Madison officials, but they said nothing further could be done to protect him, according to the complaint.
A.C. enrolled at Van Nuys High in August 2016, where he received still more frightening texts, the suit states. He says he showed the messages to the principal, who called the two middle schools A.C. attended and received confirmation from officials there of the previous threats the plaintiff received while attending those campuses.
Despite the many warnings LAUSD officials had received about J.O.’s alleged conduct toward the plaintiff, he was allowed to enroll at Van Nuys High in August 2017, according to the lawsuit, which says he stabbed the plaintiff, then 16, in the left arm with a knife three days into the school year.
“At least two other students witnessed the incident and confirmed that plaintiff had been stabbed maliciously,” the suit says.
J.O. was expelled from Van Nuys High and charged with assault with a deadly weapon, according to the complaint, which says he served time at a youth detention facility and was released this month or earlier.
“To this day, plaintiff continues to suffer extreme physical pain, psychological trauma and emotional distress as a result of the brutal attack,” according to the suit, which says the boy is unable to raise his left hand above his head.