Amos Winbush III, the founder and CEO of FinTech company Bckers, Inc., and his wife Tiffany Winbush have sued the New York City Department of Education (NYDOE) on behalf of their kids.
In the lawsuit filed in February, the Winbushes said that their children “have endured unimaginable racism, physical and emotional trauma” during their time at the Peck Slip School, a public elementary school in New York City. According to the Winbushes, their children are two of only a few Black students at the predominantly white school in Manhattan.
“Teachers and school officials have fostered, enabled, and perpetuated a racially hostile environment at Peck Slip, and that environment has emboldened students to harass and abuse the Winbush children physically and emotionally,” the lawsuit said.
The family claims that despite repeated complaints, school administrators allowed the mistreatment of the Winbush children “to continue semester after semester.”
“For years, the Winbushes have begged school administrators to intercede to stop the harassment and abuse their children are suffering, but their cries have consistently fallen on deaf ears,” the lawsuit said.
The Winbush family claims that over seven years, their son and daughter, who are now 10 and 5 years old, were the victims of incidents of bullying and racism. According to the lawsuit, a student spat in their son’s face, both of their children were assaulted and kicked by other students and a student ripped their son’s shirt several times while yelling threats to “kill him.” White students also frequently made fun of the Winbushes’ daughter’s hair and appearance.
“Racism, bigotry and indifference is wrong, it’s dangerous and it must have no place in our society,” Amos Winbush III said in a release shared with ESSENCE.
“Protecting the most vulnerable of us is the true sign that humanity possesses the legs of progress. When the nation fails to recognize that black boys’ and girls’ experiences are divinely woven into the tapestry of humanity and when we fail to honor that diversity, their innocent eyes, their tiny hands, their brave footsteps, we have failed at the most basic task of honoring ourselves,” he added.
The lawsuit names the New York City Department of Education; the Board of Education of the City District of New York; New York City Community School District 2; and the school principal and assistant principal as defendants. None have commented publicly on the allegations or lawsuit to date.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants discriminated against the family and took retaliatory action against them in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment. It requests a jury trial and asks for both compensatory and punitive damages.
“Ultimately, we want accountability on every level within the New York City Department of Education, the Board of Education, District 2 and the school in which my children attend. We want systematic change that brings these dark, traumatic, life-altering situations into the light,” said Tiffany Winbush.