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Parents file lawsuit claiming abuse of students at Whistler Elementary

Parents file lawsuit claiming abuse of students at Whistler Elementary
Parents file lawsuit claiming abuse of students at Whistler Elementary 02:19

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Parents of students with special needs at Whistler Elementary School are suing Chicago Public Schools.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims the teacher mentally and physically abused the students with special needs in her Whistler Elementary School classroom with the support and knowledge of the principal.

CBS 2 was told the students who were abused have various developmental and physical disabilities are well as learning disorders. Some of the impacted students are non-verbal, according to the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit says the teacher often hit her students with her hands, wooden rulers and other wood devices. They claim she would threaten physical harm when the children had difficulty completing an assignment or task.

The lawsuit claims the teacher threatened "the longer you cry, the longer I will hit you."

Parents who questioned the marks on their children's bodies were often told by both the principal and teacher that their children were clumsy and had fallen.

CBS 2 spoke with he attorney behind the lawsuit. He said there are eight families suing the district. We asked how long the abuse had been going on.

"From what we can tell, a good year or two. Maybe longer. The teacher at issue had been there for 20 years," Victor Henderson with the Cochran Firm, said. 

That's part of why the lawsuit isn't just against Chicago Public Schools. The families are also suing the teacher involved and principal as well as the Board of Education.

Henderson said his firm has proof of the teacher's actions through pictures, audio and video recordings as well as accounts from the students parents.

"In the beginning when I heard the tapes I had to walk out of the room. It just was beyond comprehension to me," He said. "I'm a parent. All of my children can speak and verbalize for themselves, but I had to walk out of the room when I heard the tapes for the first time." 

CPS released the following statement:

"Chicago Public Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of our students and takes seriously all allegations of employee misconduct. CPS investigates and addresses all complaints in accordance with District policies and procedures to foster safe and secure learning environments in all schools. In accordance with student privacy laws, the District does not comment on ongoing investigations and/or personnel matters."

CPS confirmed "The CPS Office of Student Protections" and Title IX is investigating this issue.

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