News (USA)

Principal allegedly hurt & threatened to kill a first-grader with gay parents

Kasongo Kalumbula
Kasongo Kalumbula Photo: Screenshot / CBS 58

A Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) principal has been accused of viciously bullying and harassing a first-grade student whose parents are gay.

A recently filed federal lawsuit alleges that Kasongo Kalumbula, currently the principal at MPS’s Bethune Academy, singled out the unnamed student for physical and verbal abuse while he was an assistant principal at the Milwaukee French Immersion School (MFIS) between the fall of 2018 and some time during the 2021–2022 school year.

According to CBS 58, the suit alleges that Kalumbula “began a campaign of harassing and threatening conduct targeting” the student that lasted several years following a meeting with one of the first grader’s parents to address bullying the student had been subjected to on the playground. During that initial meeting with Kalumbula and the school’s principal, Kalumbula allegedly screamed “no queer is going to speak to me like this!”

Kalumbula allegedly locked the student in a dark room for over an hour in the spring of 2019 and threatened to kill him if he told anyone. After he was again bullied by other students for having gay parents in the spring of 2021, Kalumbula allegedly told the student that most people believe it is wrong to be gay and that he (Kalumbula) believed that gay people are “evil” and will “burn in hell.”

After a new MFIS principal informed Kalumbula that the student’s parents had expressed concerns about the harassment the following September, Kalumbula allegedly shoved the child against the wall in the school’s hallway. Kalumbula allegedly “grabbed the child by the arm,” pulling him into an office a few days later.

According to the lawsuit, which names Kalumbula as well as the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, the student’s parents repeatedly attempted to address the situation with Milwaukee Public Schools. But, they allege, “at no point did anyone from the MPS administration offer supportive services or protective measures.” Instead, the suit claims, they faced hostility from staff that was so severe that they eventually moved their child to a school in another district in the middle of the school year. The student remains in treatment for anxiety and trauma resulting from Kalumbula’s alleged harassment.

The suit also claims that at least three other LGBTQ+ families pulled their children out of MFIS due to Kalumbula’s “discriminatory attitudes.”

In a statement to CBS 58, a spokesperson for MPS declined to comment on the lawsuit but said that the district “takes its responsibility for students seriously and acts when issues are identified.”

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