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Source: (Photo provided by IPS.)

INDIANAPOLIS — The mother of a second grader with special needs wants a jury trial in a lawsuit she is filing against Indianapolis Public Schools and a now former elementary school teacher.

She is accusing the teacher of allowing, and in fact encouraging, other students to beat up her son who has sensory sensitivities, an executive function disorder, and possible learning disabilities. She also accused IPS of failing to do anything about it when the bullying was reported to school administrators.

The mother told her lawyers, Catherine Michael and Tammy Meyer, that she found out about the bullying when the teacher, Julious Johnican, accidentally showed her a video the lawsuit says he took of her son being beaten up by another student.

You may recall that Michael and Meyer are the same lawyers representing the family of a special needs child forced to eat his own vomit by teachers at an elementary school in Brownsburg.

“It’s shocking, I watched it for the first time on video and I was shocked,” said Meyer to WISH-TV. “People in the school, the administrators are trying to justify what happened to this child. There is no justification for what happened to him.”

The boy had started school in the Fall at George Washington Carver Montessori School No. 87. Within a few weeks, the lawsuit says, the child began complained to his mother he was being harassed by students and even physically abused. He didn’t want to keep going to school.

Michael said the mother was being put in the position of forcing her son to go to school, somewhat dismissing her son’s complaints. Still, the mother’s lawyers say she did her due diligence and asked Johnican directly why her son was complaining so much.

“The parent had gone in repeatedly asking ‘Why is my child reporting this? Why is he coming home so upset?’,” said Michael.

That’s when Johnican had meant to pull out a video of the environment of the classroom to show the mother, only to accidentally pull up the video showing her son being beaten up and what appears to be Johnican egging the student on to do so.

Michael said the mother then took her outrage over the incident to Johnican’s superiors with IPS and she says the district did nothing to stop the abuse. That’s when the mother pulled her son out of the school and called the Department of Child Services and the police herself.

Michael said those are two things the school should have done.

“It was only through the mother’s efforts that the police and DCS were contacted,” Michael said. “The school did not take the initiative, at that moment to do that on their own, nor did they take the initiative the first time the mother reported to them that she had concerns about what was occurring in the classroom based on reports from the child.”

State law requires all teachers and school staff to immediately report any instances of child abuse or neglect. Failure to do so is a Class B misdemeanor. The Marion County prosecutor’s office says they have not gotten any investigation from law enforcement over the claims.

IPS released a statement on the matter contradicting the claims made in the lawsuit.

“IPS 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 conduct, the Department of Child Services (DCS) was immediately notified, and the teacher was removed from the classroom and suspended. The teacher had no further contact with students and is no longer employed by IPS.”

Michael and Meyer say this incident raises the question of if IPS is properly training their teachers to handle cases of bullying.