Home » NYC Catholic School Allegedly Ignored Racist Bullying Against 11-Year-Old Black Girl

NYC Catholic School Allegedly Ignored Racist Bullying Against 11-Year-Old Black Girl

A former student is suing a New York City Catholic school for allegedly allowing a racially discriminatory environment and then kicking the child out for reporting the alleged abuse.

Attorney Stewart Lee Karlin filed the lawsuit Wednesday against Our Lady Queen of Peace School on Staten Island and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on behalf of the 11-year-old student, identified as “J.V.,” and her mother “L.V.”

The family seeks a trial by jury, compensation, tuition reimbursement, and for the child to be re-enrolled at the school.

As the only Black student in her class, J.V. was allegedly taunted by white classmates with racial slurs, jokes and pranks concerning her looks, and bullying, which allegedly escalated after her mother reported the matter to school administrators.

“There has [been] ongoing bullying against [J.V.]. …This group of children…have relentlessly been calling [J.V.] ‘fat’ ‘dumb’ ‘ugly’ ‘n—–’ mostly during lunch time, and making lies against her to get her in trouble,” L.V. complained in an October email to school officials, according to the lawsuit. “[J.V.] came home in tears. This is simply unacceptable, and I am asking it be immediately addressed from [reoccurring].”

The complaint states that J.V. began her education at Our Lady Queen of Peace in September 2022. By October, she claims she was tormented daily by classmates, who allegedly poked fun at her hair and skin color, stole her things, assaulted J.V. by tripping her or pulling out her chair, hid her lunch because she was “too fat,” and made monkey and elephant noises. Another student allegedly told J.V. that a group of parents shared messages, calling her “fat and ugly and a black ghetto.”

In the lawsuit, L.V. claims that neither J.V.’s teacher, Janine D’Amico, nor Principal Margaret O’Connor addressed the alleged abuse. Therefore, the mother took the matter to Roman Catholic Archdiocese Regional Superintendent Zoilita Herrera.

“In retaliation for LV’s complaints of discrimination, Principal O’Connor suddenly informed LV on November 21, 2022, via telephone, that JV was immediately disenrolled from Our Lady Queen of Peace School,” the lawsuit reads.

According to the filing, school administrators claimed J.V. submitted a false application during her enrollment to Our Lady Queen of Peace. They claimed she omitted that she had been evaluated by the New York City’s Department of Education Committee on Special Education, which provides learning resources for students with learning disabilities. However, L.V. said she never requested a learning disabilities assessment for her daughter.

L.V. attempted to speak with O’Connor after J.V. was dismissed from the school, according to the lawsuit, but was never able to get through to schedule a conversation.

“There was a complete and total lack of response to this very grave situation, which endangered JV’s well-being,” the lawsuit reads. “As a result of this bullying and discrimination, which Defendants allowed to continue unabated, and the retaliatory disenrollment, JV has suffered significant psychological harm.”

The lawsuit repeatedly references how the ordeal “damaged” J.V.

The website for Our Lady of Peace says the school specializes in having “a Christian environment for students, staff and faculty alike that promotes both excellence in education and a spiritual faith formation.” The school, which serves kindergarten to eighth grade, encourages students “to take their place as leaders in a changing and challenging society.”

Representatives for J.V., the Archdiocese of New York, nor Our Lady of Peace School immediately responded to The Daily Beast’s request for comment Thursday.


March 2023