Asia Gaines filed a federal civil rights complaint Thursday accusing Chicago Public Schools teacher Kristen Haynes and Haynes' friend, Juanita Tyler, of inflicting emotional and physical abuse on her 9-year-old son, Jomaury Champ.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports Gaines alleges Tyler hit Champ 20 to 30 times with a leather belt in his school’s bathroom while school was in session. The mother says her son was dragged there by both Haynes and Tyler; her lawyer, Al Hofeld, claims "classmates could hear Jomaury’s cries from down the hall."
"He can't sleep. He can't eat," the mother said at a press conference. She added her son had been diagnosed as having PTSD by multiple mental health specialists.
The beating was meant to be a punishment “either for something he did not do or for laughing with another boy the previous day,” the suit claims.
Following the incident, Gaines’ son was reportedly threatened by the teacher once again. “Ms. Haynes then threatened, ‘You better be good because the lady is going to come back at 1 p.m.,’" Hofeld said.
According to ABC 7, Haynes called her lifelong friend, 56-year-old Tyler, to assist with the assault due to her relation to Joumary. However, the complaint asserts that Tyler is a very distant relative of the young boy and claims he only met her once in his lifetime, years prior.
A spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools released a statement in response to the lawsuit Thursday.
"Every student deserves a safe learning environment and the district will not tolerate actions that place students in the way of harm,” it said. “After learning of deeply concerning allegations, the district removed the employee from her position and launched a full investigation."
Gaines criticizes the school district for the way it has handled the allegations. She says she didn’t even find out about the incident until hours later when Joumary came home from school and told his parents.
The mother also asserts the accusations Haynes faces shouldn’t come as a shock to district officials. Her complaint alleges Sylvia Yvette Hodge, principal of the elementary school, has known Haynes has been threatening to beat students with belts for years and was equally aware of the collection of belts Haynes keeps in her teacher’s closet.
Both Haynes and Tyler have been arrested and charged. The teacher was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery and one count of misdemeanor child endangerment on September 24, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Tyler was charged with domestic battery causing bodily harm.
Chicago police note Tyler has a record of violence, having been convicted of one count of child endangerment and three counts of domestic battery in 2015.
The school district has removed Haynes from the classroom and placed her on desk duty during the ongoing investigation; she will appear in court Friday.
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