A civil rights lawsuit filed on Wednesday accuses a Pittsburgh-area school of creating a culture of abuse that enabled resource officers to use excessive force to discipline students, the Washington Post reports.
The guardians of five Black former students of Woodland Hills High School cited several examples of the alleged abuses.
They maintain that school administrators racially discriminated against Black students and filed false charges against them to cover up the abuses. They also fault the school district for failing to address the problems, even though officials were aware of the abuses.
The families point to video evidence that suggests a pattern of abuse. A 2009 video shows Steve Shaulis, a resource officer at the school, pushing a student into a locker then shocking the student with a stun gun.
In a 2010 video, a behavioral specialist slams a student to the ground, breaking the student’s wrist. The district attorney dropped assault charges against the student after reviewing the video, a lawyer for the families said.
Most recently, a video that surfaced in May shows Shaulis body-slamming a student in 2015 before shocking him with a stun gun. The Allegheny County district attorney is currently reviewing allegations that Shaulis knocked out a student’s teeth for allegedly stealing a cellphone.
“Why wasn’t anything ever done? How could anybody in charge look at those videos and not hold anyone accountable?” said Timothy O’Brien, one of the attorneys who filed the suit, according to the Associated Press.
He added: “When a child goes to school, they shouldn’t be treated like an inmate at a prison.”
O’Brien underscored that none of the resources officers involve in the abuses have been disciplined or retrained.
Phil DiLucente, an attorney representing Shaulis and another resources officer, told the AP that the officers used “reasonable force.”
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