PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A junior high school suspended a student and turned him over to police because of a "doodle" he drew showing a person being hanged, his father claims in court.
Robert Bernard Keller sued the Beaverton Police Department and Beaverton School District in Federal Court. Beaverton is a suburb of Portland.
Keller, suing for himself and his son, B.R.K., claims that on May 2, 2013, his 13-year-old son "was interviewed at his school, Raleigh Hills, K-8, by officers of the Beaverton Police Department regarding an alleged threat of harm based on a doodle that was drawn during class. B.R.K. was removed from his classroom and placed in the principal's office of Raleigh Hills K-8 to be questioned about offenses that he was alleged to have committed. At no time did the officers or school obtain a warrant, contact the minor child's parents to obtain parental consent, provide a counselor or attorney to the minor child or advise B.R.K. of his right against self-incrimination or provide an advocate who could explain."
Keller claims that the principal had interviewed his son on April 30, and suspended him, for drawing the doodle. He claims that he and his wife met with school staff that day for an IEP (individual education program) meeting, "and were told that B.R.K. was doing fine," though at the end of the meeting they were told that he was suspended, "effective immediately, pending a risk assessment."
He claims that he and his wife told the school that their son "was not to be interviewed alone without a parent present." Nonetheless, he was interviewed alone, by a school psychologist, and then by police, whom the school called in without notifying them, according to the complaint.
"At no time before or during the interview were the parents notified by Raleigh Hills or the Beaverton Police. Only after the fact did the parents learn of the police interrogation. No criminal charge was filed nor was a petition filed with the department of human services. As a direct and foreseeable result of the events that transpired during this incident, B.R.K. has suffered emotional damages," the complaint states.
The family seeks damages of at least $100,000 for violations of the Fourth and 14th Amendments, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and failure to train and supervise.
They are represented by Michael Vergamini, of Eugene.