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Home Lawsuit 'Encouragement of physical assault': Teacher accused of organizing 'reprehensible fight club type of discipline' in second-grade classroom, according to lawsuit

'Encouragement of physical assault': Teacher accused of organizing 'reprehensible fight club type of discipline' in second-grade classroom, according to lawsuit

A teacher in the second grade is accused of organizing and promoting unacceptable disciplinary actions resembling a fight club in his class, leading to a criminal investigation.

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A lawsuit alleges a teacher in Indiana orchestrated "fight club type" discipline in his second-grade classroom. (Still image from the video provided by the family's lawyers)

A lawsuit claims a teacher in Indiana set up a 'fight club type' discipline in his second-grade classroom. (Still image from the video provided by the family’s lawyers)

A second-grade teacher in Indiana is accused in a lawsuit of organizing and promoting a 'reprehensible fight club type of discipline' in his class, and recording it on his cellphone, leading to a criminal investigation.

The allegations came to light last fall after the parents of a 7-year-old boy reported abuse, bullying, and harassment in his second-grade classroom at George Washington Carver School No. 87 in Indianapolis, according to the complaint filed in Marion County, Indiana.

The lawsuit alleges the boy was attacked by other students, while their teacher recorded at least one incident on his cellphone, and encouraged the fighting. The mother stated that when she brought up her son’s complaints, the teacher and school officials dismissed her concerns. She only discovered the assaults when she saw a video of one attack unintentionally played on the teacher's cellphone during a parent-teacher conference, as per court documents.

'The mother is devastated by the situation,' said the family’s lawyer, Catherine Michael, in an interview with Law&Crime.

In a statement, Indiana Public Schools spokesperson Marc Ransford stated that the district “does not tolerate the type of behavior alleged in the complaint and takes reports of potential abuse and neglect seriously.”

'When IPS learned of the teacher’s behavior, the Department of Child Services (DCS) was immediately notified, and the teacher was removed from the classroom and suspended,' he said. 'The teacher had no further contact with students and is no longer employed by IPS.'

A representative from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office informed Law&Crime in an email on Thursday that the case has been referred to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, which has initiated an investigation.

The complaint names as defendants the Indiana Public Schools, Superintendent Aleesia Johnson, Principal Mary Kapcoe, Vice Principal Finae Rent, behavioral consultant Anthony Bigby, substitute teacher Pardeep Dahliwal, and teacher Julious Johnican.

The lawsuit alleges that Johnican arranged at least three beatings and “various forms of physical harm and bullying, either for his own amusement or as a deeply disturbed disciplinary measure” over three months.

'Johnican actively and regularly encouraged other students to engage in actions that went beyond mere pushing or shoving,' according to court documents.

In at least three assaults, the boy, referred to as O.D. in court papers, was thrown to the ground, struck, slapped, and hit in the head repeatedly, according to court documents.

O.D. told his mother that another teacher in the classroom claimed that special needs students were 'demonically possessed,' and staff told him he was 'bad,' 'needed to be baptized,' and that 'holy water needed to be poured on him' to cure him of his evil, as per court documents.

According to the lawsuit, when the mother expressed her worries to the teacher, he rejected the claims as behavioral problems and said the boy was lying or mentally ill. The teacher also repeatedly suggested that the boy was making up stories to avoid going to school, as per court documents.

After her son had a traumatic experience, the mother contacted the school. The boy told her that a student slammed his head on a desk, pulled him to the floor, and repeatedly hit him in the head. He said his teacher ordered the attack, and it occurred in his presence, as per court documents.

When the mother sought answers from the school, the lawsuit alleges that she was consistently told that her child was disruptive and lying, and that this behavior was a sign of a disorder related to his ADHD.

During a parent-teacher conference in November, the complaint reported that alarming information about the mother's concerns came to light. It was mentioned that Johnican tried to show the boy's parents a video about the classroom experience but accidentally showed them a video of their son being attacked. The footage revealed what the lawsuit described as a "flagrant encouragement of physical assault."

The court documents stated that when the parent tried to seize the phone, the teacher accidentally turned up the volume, allowing the parents to hear that it was him, the teacher, instigating and encouraging the beating of their disabled seven-year-old child. The lawsuit alleged that teacher Julious Johnican recorded at least one incident in which he can be heard instigating violence against the seven-year-old O.D. by another student.

As per the lawsuit, the video depicts the boy on the floor crying as he’s repeatedly punched in the face and head by a peer who is sitting on top of him, while he begs for the attack to stop.

In the midst of the chaos, Johnican encouraged the aggressor to keep hitting O.D.’s head and face as the boy lay sobbing on the floor, according to court documents.

The complaint stated that this behavior not only reveals a serious failure in protection but also a shocking involvement in the perpetration of abuse.

The mother brought the video to the school secretary on Nov. 1, 2023, and insisted that the police be called, as per court documents. The mother also reached out to the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS), which launched an investigation, according to the complaint.

DCS investigators found out through an interview with the vice principal that the substitute teacher had commented after witnessing an attack that O.D. and other 6- and 7-year-old children, some with special needs, were "bad kids, that’s what you do!" as stated in the court documents.

The court documents allege that DCS also discovered that O.D. reported the abuse to the behavioral consultant, but the consultant failed to report it to DCS or school administration, despite being obligated to report known or suspected abuse.

DCS interviewed the HR manager for IPS Schools who was aware of a video of a fight recorded by Johnican, according to court documents. The HR manager allegedly showed a lack of empathy for O.D. being attacked, stating that it was a result of a disciplinary action in Mr. Johnican's classroom, the lawsuit stated.


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