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The Sikh Coalition Fateh!
October 8, 2010

Public School Settles Lawsuit after Failing to Protect Sikh Student from Bullying

(New York, NY) – October 8, 2010 – The New York City school system last month agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that it failed to protect a Sikh student from violent bullies.

The lawsuit was filed by the law firm Howrey LLP and the Sikh Coalition on behalf of Jagmohan Singh Premi. As a victim of constant bullying in school, Jagmohan Singh and this settlement represent a victory for all students.

Attacked for being Sikh

On June 3, 2008, Jagmohan, a former student at Richmond Hill High School (RHHS), was punched in the face by another student. The perpetrator simultaneously tried to remove Jagmohan’s patka (small turban). Jagmohan was routinely bullied on the basis of his faith, and after a long documented history of harassment, the teachers and administrators failed to step in.

“I hope that the lawsuit settlement prevents other students from suffering this kind of abuse,” said Jagmohan Premi. “I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through.”

Lawsuit Settlement Protects Students from Discrimination

The Premi family sought help form the Sikh Coalition with the goal of obtaining greater protection for children from bias-based harassment in public schools. Coalition attorneys engaged the law firm of Howrey LLP to jointly represent Jagmohan and file a lawsuit on his behalf.

Through settlement of the lawsuit, the NYC Department of Education and the school have agreed to take the following steps to prevent discrimination and bias-based harassment:
  • Written lesson plans will be created that discuss bias, the school system’s obligations to stop discrimination in schools, and issues that Sikhs specifically face. Jagmohan and the legal team will have an opportunity to provide feedback about the lesson plans before the lessons are given to RHHS students.
  • The school system’s legal obligations to stop discrimination in schools will be explicitly discussed with all RHHS school staff and school security.
  • The school system will designate two individuals to whom reports of bias can be made at RHHS. These individuals’ names will be posted on posters throughout the school building.

The school system also agreed to provide money damages to the family. All terms of the lawsuit settlement discourage other schools from failing to protect students from discrimination.

“It is our hope that these types of lawsuits will ensure that schools are mindful of their obligation to protect children from bullying,” said Gurbir Singh Grewal of Howrey LLP, the lead attorney in the matter.

“The lawsuit holds the New York City school system and Richmond Hill High School accountable for its failure to stop the pervasive bias-based harassment and violence that Jagmohan endured,” said Harsimran Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “The settlement sends a message to all schools to be vigilant in protecting students from discrimination.”

The Sikh Coalition would like to thank Howrey LLP attorneys Gurbir Singh Grewal and Gazeena Soni for their hard work and tireless dedication to the case.

As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.

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