Post-Dispatch, June 23, 1999

Suit alleges teacher in East St. Louis beat fourth-grader with a paddle,
By Valerie Schremp of the Post-Dispatch Staff

A fourth-grade boy in East St. Louis was held down by laughing classmates as his teacher hit, cut and bruised him with a 25-inch rubber paddle, a lawsuit alleges.

The suit was filed Wednesday against the East St. Louis schools superintendent, a principal and two teachers allegedly involved.

East St. Louis police filed criminal assault charges against the teachers in the incident, which happened April 21. The charges are pending.

The school allowed the teachers to stay in their jobs while the boy was not allowed to return to school for the rest of the school year, said the boy's lawyer, Al Johnson.

A police report gave this account:

Pupils reported that fourth-grade teacher Gloria Jackson became angry when the student, Trevion Jackson, now 10, took too long to get a book from his desk. A teacher from the adjacent classroom, Estella Nunnally, suggested that the boy needed a good paddling. Laughing students were instructed to hold Trevion against Nunnally's chalkboard. The homeroom teacher struck him with the rubber paddle on the arms and legs, leaving bruises on his legs and a cut on his shoulder.

The suit says Trevion reported what happened to principal Joseph Hayes, who took notes and told Trevion to return to the classroom. Hayes called the East St. Louis police to ask if he could file a complaint but was told only a parent could do so, the suit says. Trevion was treated at a hospital that evening.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis says Trevion was not allowed to return to school because his teachers "felt uncomfortable" with him there. There was no further explanation of the boy's suspension. The suit also says that apparently no disciplinary action was taken against the teachers.

"My child belongs in school more than those teachers do," said the boy's mother, Carmen McNairy. "He is only a boy, and he is learning how to behave and how to treat other people."

Both teachers swore in police statements that they did not hit the boy. They could not be reached Wednesday.

Johnson said he made several efforts to contact the district and Superintendent Nate Anderson but has heard nothing. Pearson Bush, attorney for East St. Louis schools, said Wednesday that he knew little about the case and wouldn't comment.

The suit filed on behalf of Trevion alleges civil rights violations, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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