PLAYA VISTA (CBSLA) — A local mom said her son’s life was forever changed — physically, mentally and emotionally — after he was the victim of an aggressive bully at Animo Westside Charter Middle School in Playa Vista.
Sarah, the boy’s mother, said the January 2018 incident left her 12-year-old son with permanent brain damage on the left side, spinal damage and learning disabilities.
“That child I dropped off at 7:30 that morning, he is not the same anymore,” she said.
Security video from the school shows Sarah’s son arriving at the school when he was immediately attacked and choked by reported eighth grade boy who appears much bigger.
“You see my client cower as he’s being choked, and various pressure points are being used,” Ben Meiselas, attorney for the family, said. “Apparently, this bully had gone on YouTube to find out how to basically do the most painful pressure points on the neck.”
Meiselas is representing Sarah and her son in a lawsuit against Animo and Green Dot Public Schools, the organization that operates the charter school, for negligence after they contend school employee’s failed to protect the 12-year-old. Meiselas said the school knew about the eighth grade bully’s violent history at the school, but did nothing about it.
“You keep watching this video, and it’s just a tragedy of errors,” Meiselas said.
According to Meiselas, a teacher or staff member can be seen walking by as the incident is happening, saw what was going on and continued to walk past. The video then shows the bully help the 12-year-old by taking him to a water fountain. It’s only then that nearby teachers take notice of the situation and take the child to the office.
Sarah said when she arrived, nobody told her why her son has had a seizure, but when she arrived, she found out nobody had called police.
“By the time I get there, I’m thinking paramedics and he’s going to have help,” she said. “My son is literally laying there still in the middle of the office floor completely black and blue.”
Meiselas said the school district has seen the video, but Sarah said she has yet to receive so much as an apology.
“The fact that they can watch that video and not so much offer an apology is really, really, really disgusting,” Meiselas said.
The school said in a statement that it takes seriously the safety of students and quickly addresses bullying of any kind. The statement further said it had not received any communication of the pending litigation and could not comment on the incident.
“We are naturally concerned by the incident portrayed in media coverage,” the statement said.
But it’s not just an apology Sarah is after, she wants to make sure there is accountability for what happened to her son.
“No one else is going to pretend that he’s invisible, OK,” she said. “He’s not invisible.”