Former middle school student sued by Barrington School Committee
BARRINGTON, R.I (WLNE) - The Barrington School Committee has filed a lawsuit in Rhode Island Superior Court against a former middle school student for challenging his three-day suspension.
The Rhode Island ACLU released a statement on Thursday, outlining the details of the complaint, saying it's an "outrageous and shameful attack" on one of their own.
Aubrey Lombardo who represents the student, named E. Doe in the complaint, said her client was suspended for three days back in 2018 over an alleged threat to Barrington Middle School.
“He’s a straight-A student, he has never been in any trouble, never been suspended before, even reprimanded before," said Lombardo.
The student, in eighth grade at the time, was talking with a group of friends in the school cafeteria after learning they'd have an active shooter drill that day.
"The conversation at the table shifted to what would you do if you were the shooter."
Another student overheard the conversation and told her parents. They called Barrington Police, who then made home visits that night and determined there was no threat.
The next day at school, Lombardo said, "they were brought in and interrogated by the administration, and there was also a police officer sitting in the room with them."
The group was then suspended for three days. Lombardo sat down with the school's administration to get the student's record cleared, but she said they refused. Lombardo took the case to the Rhode Island Department of Education, who ruled that the school district had improperly issued the suspension.
Barrington then appealed the decision to the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, who agreed with RIDE.
"We felt like, okay, we've won twice at the administrative level, and this will be done."
But on October 10th, the school committee filed a complaint, suing for legal fees and an overturned decision.
“I certainly understand the need to keep schools safe, but there was no threat to safety here, no students were threatened, the school wasn’t threatened, this was just a student who happened to be sitting at the wrong table," said Lombardo.
Superintendent of school, Michael Messore, sent an emailed statement, saying in part that the decision undermines the safety and welfare of the school community, and overlooks the impact the event had.
"The Commissioner’s ruling overlooks the impact of the event here on the Barrington school community – which began with a child who heard something frightening – only weeks after one of the most horrific school massacres in United States history," wrote Messore.
His full statement here:
A hearing will soon be scheduled in Superior Court on the case.