High price prep school sued for bullying
SEATTLE -- University Prep in North Seattle is pricey - it costs nearly $30,000 a year for tuition. But one local family says the high price tag wasn't enough to protect their son from bullying.
"I would often be punched, thrown in the hallways, things like that," says 18-year-old C.L. who asked to keep his name confidential.
C.L. says they bullying started at University Preparatory Academy when he was just a freshman, and often happened in front of teachers.
"I did my best to ignore it," says C.L. "I hoped it would go away, however it did not and it progressed."
C.L. describes the hell of high-school bullying, both verbal taunting and physical assaults, with almost no emotion, but his parents couldn't hide their pain.
"At the end of his sophomore year he was a broken child," says C.L.'s mother through tears.
C.L.'s father was even more pointed in his remarks, "when we delivered our son to them in his freshman year, they got a happy-go-lucky kid and in two years they turned him into someone who was almost afraid to leave his bedroom."
His parents say they're not rich, and worked hard to get their son into a prestigious school. They say he was a stand-out, excelling in academics and extra-curricular activities, and chosen for the honor board, the academic council and as a student ambassador.
"This guy - was their icon," says his father.
When C.L. finally told his parents and the school about the bullying, the family says University Prep did nothing. Instead, their lawsuit alleges that by the end of C.L.'s junior year, U-Prep told them he couldn't return as a senior; that 'he didn't fit into the social fabric' of the school.
"Our son, who was the victim," says C.L.'s mother, "the school was punishing him."
U-Prep would not give an interview, and instead released this brief statement: "The school vigorously denies the allegations in the complaint but due to confidentiality concerns cannot comment further at this time."
Attorney Yvonne Kinoshita Ward says her office has uncovered a pattern of U-Prep ignoring bullying.
"In this case the bullies are from old Seattle money, and so the school's solution was to expel the kid whose parents had to work to get him into U-Prep," she says.
The family is suing University Prep to get back nearly $100,000 in tuition fees. But most importantly, they say, they want to ensure this doesn't happen to any other students.