LAWRENCE, Ind. - The parents of a special needs student are suing a local school for not doing enough to stop the bullying of their son.
The family says their son, Hawk, who was 9 years old at the time, was tormented and even received death threats. Hawk, now 12, said it was hard for him to come forward, but he wants to be the voice for others who are bullied.
"What he wants most of all, kids like this want most of all, is to be treated like every other kid as much as possible," his mother Brenda Trimmer said.
Hawk's parents said he is a brilliant boy who excels in school work. He is home-schooled because of his physical limitations, but Hawk decided a few years ago that he wanted to try school. His parents enrolled him in Hoosier Academies Learning Center in Lawrence two days a week.
His mom said the bullying began right away and students would chant at him and call him ugly names.
Trimmer said the verbal abuse turned physical, with one little girl in particular tormenting Hawk and even threatening his life.
"She body-slammed him into the wall and he fell down to the ground. A lot of these things were done right in front of the teacher," Trimmer said. "She was going to sneak a knife to school in her backpack and stab him and keep stabbing him until he died. And once he was dead, she was going to throw him out the window."
The bullying continued to get worse, so Hawk’s parents filed a police report. They also filed a lawsuit against the school that claims Hawk's teacher and principal knew what was going on but did nothing to stop it.
They said the teacher herself would even put Hawk in the hallway or leave him in the bathroom daily for up to 40 minutes at a time.
The school maintains they did nothing wrong.
Hawk is back to being home-schooled now. Although it's emotional for him to talk about the alleged bullying, he said that he wants to be the voice that brings change.
"Winning this case means a lot. It means that teachers will have guidelines on how to deal with kids with special needs and that bullies and teachers will be held accountable for what they do to kids like me. It means that special needs kids will feel safe in an environment where there is authority. I am not doing it just for me," Hawk said through a computer.
The school released the following statement:
"We care deeply about all of our students and families. Many parents choose our school because they see how our teachers and staff make it a priority to foster a safe and secure learning environment for all children."
The attorney for the family said depositions are next. He said it could take a couple of years for the lawsuit to play out in court.