BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — The victim of an assault at a Piedmont Triad high school has filed a federal lawsuit against a teacher and the Board of Education, accusing them of failing to prevent a teen’s stabbing.
On Oct. 11, 2022, a student identified by the lawsuit as Makiya Bradsher was assaulted at Cummings High School by another girl at the school, according to the suit filed on Sept. 28 in the North Carolina Middle District. Both of them were juveniles at the time of the alleged assault, but Bradsher is over 18 now.
The lawsuit alleges that the teacher, Tonya Cope, failed to de-escalate the situation, intervene to protect Bradsher or call for help from any other faculty or staff. It also says that the BOE’s policies guiding teacher behavior in situations like the assault are unclear, which led to Cope’s alleged failure to act.
Lawsuit alleges history of violence
It states the Board of Education knew that the perpetrator of the assault, who had just enrolled at Cummings High School at the start of that school year, had a history of criminal and behavioral issues that they failed to act on prior to this assault.
Publicly available court documents say that Bradsher had declined to become friends with the alleged assailant. The girl, then, developed an “obsession” with the victim that the Board of Education and teachers at Cummings should have been aware of.
The assault happened in a classroom. Bradsher was talking to another student before class. Cope was in the room at the time, also preparing for class, when the other student came in asking Bradsher if she “wanted to fight.”
“From the front of the classroom, [the alleged assailant] shouted at Makiya, ‘Anything you want to say to me?’ and ‘Do you want to fight me?’ She clearly and publicly forecast her intent to physically attack Makiya,” the document states.
According to the document, Bradsher did not engage with the other student “in hopes that her failure to engage would dissuade an attack and that her teacher, Defendant Cope, would do something to intervene.”
When approached by the alleged assailant, Bradsher stood up “ready to defend herself” and the teacher did not intervene. That’s when the other student produced a knife and assaulted Bradsher, according to the lawsuit, stabbing her nine times in the head, neck and chest area before running out of the room.
“During the entire assault, Defendant Cope did not say anything, intervene, stop the fight, or restrain [other student] at all. Upon information and belief, she also did not seek help or intervention from any other member of the Cummings staff, security personnel or the school resource officer.”
Lawsuit alleges school board failure
Bradsher had to go to the hospital and “received four staples in her head and three stitches in her face near her temple.”
The lawsuit alleges that Cope did not do anything to stop the assault on Bradsher at any point.
“As a direct and proximate result of Defendant Cope’s negligent and grossly negligent acts and omissions, as described herein, Makiya suffered and will continue to suffer physical, emotional, and pecuniary losses, including but not limited to physical injury, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, scars and disfigurement, permanent injuries.”
The document goes on to describe the Board of Education’s duty to the students within the school district, stating that the board failed in its duties when Bradsher was assaulted.
“Defendant Board breached its duty to its students, including Makiya, by failing to have the proper protocols in place for threats of school-based violence and failing to properly train its teachers and staff regarding such protocols.”
They outline different areas in which they allege the board failed, such as failing to “enact a policy or protocol for supervising students with criminal or violent histories, or managing the threat posed by such students” and “Failed to establish clear and appropriate procedures for its teachers and staff regarding how to assess and address threats of violence at the school.”
When reached for comment, the Alamance-Burlington School System said “ABSS has trained sworn law-enforcement officers as school resource officers on all our campuses. All District schools have staff members who are trained through North Carolina’s Communication and Deescalation Intervention program. However, we cannot respond or comment on pending litigation.”
Burlington Police Department confirmed that charges were filed in connection to this assault; assault inflicting serious injury and weapon on educational property.