JOLIET – Attorneys in a lawsuit case over the expulsion of a Providence Catholic High School student for a racist song are hoping for a settlement.
A former Providence freshmen and his father are suing school officials and the Diocese of Joliet, alleging the student was wrongfully expelled in March over an incident where he played a racist song at a black student.
They seek to reinstate the student at school or receive $4,600 for tuition in paid costs and $1 million for damages to the father and son’s reputation, emotional distress and public criticism.
The father and son – who are named John Doe and John Doe 2 in the lawsuit – allege the son was removed without a meaningful disciplinary hearing, the song was arguably criticizing racism and that his expulsion on March 17 was a “political response” to a WGN-TV story on the incident, which led Tianna Waits, the mother of the black student, to pull her son out of school.
The parents of the son declined to disclose their name or their son’s name Friday, saying their son has faced threats.
Steven Glink, their attorney, and Maureen Harton, the diocese’s attorney, met in court Friday over a scheduling conflict in the case, as a hearing was supposed to be held on Monday but Harton had another hearing in Kankakee County that day.
Will County Judge John Anderson held a settlement conference between the two parties. After the conference, Glink said the parties are seeking a resolution to the case with Anderson’s assistance and that hopefully there will be a settlement.
The case is scheduled to continue for status on May 25.
In an email statement, Edward Flavin, the diocese’s communications director, stated that the matter has been continued to May 25 for status on settlement. Questions directed to Harton about the allegations of the complaint or the settlement were not answered.
Glink declined to comment when asked about what his clients were hoping to receive out of the settlement.
The former student’s attorney filed a temporary restraining order to reinstate him in school, alleging losing out his entire freshman year will adversely impact a wrestling scholarship and that an online completion of a degree discussed between the parties would be educationally inadequate.
Before the settlement conference, Harton said she did not have a chance to speak with Providence officials on the case yet and that the school is undergoing its busiest time of the year with various events, such as graduation. She recommended May 25 or May 26 as dates for hearing.
She also said classes will end May 18.
“The train has basically left the station. … The whole school can’t be put on hold (over this),” Harton said.
Glink said the student was being deprived of his education and that he could not wait on school officials’ response.
“My client’s education is more important than that,” he said.