'I felt isolated': NYC girl, 15, beaten up by taser-wielding school bullies sues edu dept over inaction

'I felt isolated': NYC girl, 15, beaten up by taser-wielding school bullies sues edu dept over inaction
Jihya Brown was bullied and beaten up by two other students (Google Maps)

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY: A teen highschooler and her grandmother filed a new lawsuit against the city Department of Education last week after a Manhattan school administration failed to take steps against bullying, despite being aware of the prior threats. Jihya Brown, 15, was reportedly bullied and beaten up by two other students, including one with a Taser. The incident took place on May 26 which left the then-10th grader with a “fractured nose, bruising and swelling of her face [and] hair loss,” according to the court papers. 

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Officials at the Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law in the Lower East Side did not act, claims Brown and her grandmother, after she was intimidated with a Taser by the student who later attacked her. “If someone would have taken it seriously the first time this wouldn’t have happened to my granddaughter,” Brown's grandmother, Denise Tucker told The New York Post. “No one did anything.”

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Brown alleges that on March 3, she was first threatened with a taser at the school by a 9th grader, identified as ZNL in court papers, after the pair bumped into each other in the hallway. “It started off with her bumping me and then screaming in the hallway saying I bumped her,” she told. “She waved the taser and attempted to tase me with it.” According to the Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit, the principal of the school was informed about the incident by Brown but she did not report it to police and subesquently the attacker went scot-free and was not punished in any manner. 

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Brown, who was crying after the first incident, told the principal, “She is trying to attack me for no reason. I don’t want to fight. I don’t know her.” She says she was threatened by the same individual again on May 26, while she was sitting in the class, “saying how she is going to beat me up, she is going to F me up, she is going to punch me, and there was nothing I could do about it,” she recalled.

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Before going home that day she went to her school counselor and reported the threats and explained how she felt vulnerable in the school. “I went to her for my safety to be reassured,” the teen said. However, much to her surprise, the counselor’s response was, “Don’t worry about it. Calm down. Leave it alone and go home.” “I was petrified,” Brown said. “I was stressed, hurt and my life was in jeopardy. She swept it under the rug. And on my way home I was followed and assaulted.”

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After the incident, as she headed to a subway station where she was set to meet her grandmother, Brown was again followed by ZNL, again waved around the taser, and threatened to use it. But Brown's friend came in between and said “I’m not going to let you Tase my friend.” However, Brown was reportedly punched in her face, she was dragged on the ground and her hair was pulled out by ZNL's friend, another bully, identified as NG in court papers. She said that it took her more than a month to completely recover from the injuries she suffered. Besides, physical injuries, she also suffered “fear, fright, shock, humiliation and emotional distress,” the suit says. She said that it was humiliating and embarrassing. “I don’t know these girls, I don’t say anything to them and for no reason my life was put in jeopardy,” Brown said.

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“I have to be insulted, I have to be beaten, I have to have bruises and burns on my body from being dragged on the concrete,” she added. “My hair has to be pulled out, my face has to be battered … in front of everybody on the street.” Tucker, who was waiting for Brown at the train station, saw her arrive with blood on her face and clothes. “I was so upset, so hurt,” Tucker said.

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The school decided not to take any measures against the bullies after the students, parents and administration officials met over Zoom and instead they were let off after a warning. “My safety wasn’t prioritized,” Brown said of the school’s inaction afterwards. “Now you are going to tell me the next time there would be consequences?” 

Brown finished the school year remotely and is now in 11th grade. She now stays in Brooklyn after she transferred to a public school. “The first couple days I cried,” Brown said of starting at the new school “I also felt isolated … I was by myself.” Her suit is seeking unspecified damages from the Department of Education and the two students. “I think it’s outrageous that the school looked the other way and tried to protect this other child,” Brown’s lawyer Michael H Joseph told New York Post. “They are fostering criminals by not calling the police when incidents like this occur.” He added, “The lawsuit is the only way to make them take their students’ safety seriously.”

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The agency will review the lawsuit, said DOE spokesperson Arthur Nevins. “Any allegations of threatening and bullying behavior at school are of utmost concern and the safety of our students is our absolute top priority,” Nevins said. A spokesperson with the city Law Department said it would review the suit and respond in the litigation.

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 Jihya Brown her grandmother files lawsuit against DOE after she was bullied with a Taser Manhattan