Camden School Board Settles Lawsuit over Punishment for $500,000

Kevin C. Shelly, Courier Post, August 13, 2012

The school board has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by seven Hispanic students, who were made to eat lunch on the floor as punishment for spilling a jug of water.

The February 2008 incident at Charles Sumner Elementary School in Liberty Park had stirred claims of bias and underscored tensions between the city’s black and Hispanic communities.

Without admitting any guilt, the Camden Board of Education recently approved the settlement with the former fifth-grade students. {snip}

Under the settlement, the students will split $280,000, which works out to $31,428 each. Their attorney, Alan H. Schorr of Cherry Hill, will get $220,000.

The board had previously settled with the students’ teacher, Jose Rivera, who was fired after reporting the incident to the board of education.

Rivera, who holds a teaching job in another district, was awarded $75,000, with $50,000 of that payment going to Schorr.

The administrator who imposed the punishment, Theresa Brown, was reassigned to another school. Brown, now a vice principal at Camden High School, could not be reached for comment.


According to the suit, the punishment occurred after a student in Rivera’s bilingual class—overseen that day by a substitute teacher—tried to change a jug of water in a water cooler and caused a spill.

Brown then allegedly punished the class of about 15 Puerto Rican students by making them eat on the cafeteria floor, while other classes were seated at tables. Some students in Rivera’s class were absent on the day of the spill, but they also were subject to the continuing punishment, the lawsuit says.

Brown also threatened the students with additional punishment if they told anyone about the punishment, the lawsuit said.


Concerned that he would face retaliation if he went to the school’s administration, Rivera coached his class to tell their parents to contact school board members.

The students followed through—but Rivera’s plan backfired.

He was suspended by the board for failing to notify the principal, and was fired in March 2008 for “conduct unbecoming a board employee.”


A review by the state Department of Education concluded Brown had forced students to eat on the floor as punishment for five consecutive days, but it said that was not a racist act.


The school board, led by then-President Sara Davis, who remains on the board, initially brushed off the incident as “isolated.”

But the board, like the city, split along racial lines.

Both of the Hispanic school board members serving at the time of the incident, Luis Lopez, who is now a city council member, and Amalia Adame, voted against transferring Brown rather than firing her.

Lopez and Councilman Frank Moran, who is now the president of council, attended rallies to protest the board’s handling of the incident. Lopez called Brown’s transfer—rather than firing—“a slap in the face to the Hispanic community.”


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  • haroldcrews

    If I had only known I would be rich today.  Of course suing for corporal punishment would have been summarily dismissed back then but that’s the way it goes.  I remember of second grade teacher, Mr. McGraw, would use either the paddle or stress positions for punishment.  The stress positions were worse than paddling. By the way I’m willing to eat sitting on the floor for $30,000 a meal any day of the week.

  • The__Bobster

    The butt-hurt ghetto lottery is paying off really well for the Philly area tootsie rolls, even better for their chosen mouthpieces.

    On the first day the children swam at the club, they reported hearing racial slurs, and on July 3, 2009, the club refunded the day camp’s membership fee and prohibited the children from returning to the pool. Shortly thereafter, a group of families filed suit against the swim club on discrimination claims.Just months later, Valley Swim Club filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection. The club property was sold in June 2010 for $1,460,000.Now, the Justice Department has revealed that once the administration of the estate and bankruptcy case is closed and after paying costs and fees, the remaining assets from the swim club will be split between the 73 discrimination claimants—a number that could be as much as $1.1 million, or just over $15,000 per person.

    • anarchyst

      You can bet that after the settlement money is paid out, there will be many new “entrepeneurs” in the “crack” business . . .

  • Detroit_WASP

    So the black run district gets sued by Hispanic students and the white tax payers get to pay the tab!
    Welcome to Obamamerica!  Land of sleeze, home of the slave.

  • Everybody wins in a diversity rich America as it goes full throttle towards self-destruction!

    Students win. Yay! Teacher wins. Yay! Teacher gets a new job. Yay! White America pays. Yay!

  • Sheila Dinehart

    There was this Freedom Train one time but it didn’t last long because all the black,red, and brown brothers and sisters couldn’t stop fighting.  (damn, kant has nuthin)

  • dhs

    Two points:

    1-After reading the account of the incident in the source, I am still confused over the events. A water bottle is fairly heavy and cumbersome (a 5 gallon jug weighs 40 pounds). Even a husky 12 year old male would have some difficulty in putting a jug on a water cooler. Obviously the teach should have done this himself, or, if it was a herself, get a custodian to do the changing. Why any students ware punished is not evident.

    2-This is not the first Hispanic vs. African conflict reported in Amren, and it will not be the last. The only thing binding hyphenated Americans together is their antagonism toward white men.

  • haroldcrews

    I agree.  There is a scam going on somewhere when the government settles when it would likely win in litigation.

  • anarchyst

    Public education has never been a “bastion of common sense”.  Why punish someone for spilling water (unless it was deliberate)?
    It sounds like excessive punishnemt to me . . .

  • IstvanIN

    The teacher was no doubt black.  Another example of black inability to see things in proportion.

    Dat poto rikan boy dun speelled somes wata, he be dissin me, I gots to stop dat.

  • Hirene

    A field trip to an amusement park and apology would have been sufficient compensation for an overly-harsh disciplinary action.  As always, the trial lawyers and race hustlers blow everything out of proportion.

  • The philosophy is “as long  YT tax payer is payin’ the bill, let’s give em what they want”

    That the black school board could take a $500k hit and still not fire the black vice principle says  all you need to know about their competence.

  •  from what I understand, that is obama’s grand scheme, suck money from white suburbs and funnel it into black ghettos

    •  That theory is based on the lamer con writer Kurtz and his new book. If Obama hates suburbs and suburban whites as much as Kurtz thinks he does, then Obama is the dumbest smartest man in the history of the world. White flight is the only reason Obama got to be President, because if we fire our wormhole generator and hot foot it to an alternate universe where the only difference between it and our universe is that white flight to suburbs in the United States never occurred for whatever reason, it would be a United States whose body politic would be “Mississippiized,” and by that, I mean like the real world state of Mississippi, where whites so despise blacks, thanks to Patterson’s First Axiom (“nothing cures the thirst for integration like a good dose of n****rs”), that Alternate Universe America would have never given the person of Barack H. Obama II the time of day, much less a serious national political career. If our real world state of Mississippi didn’t vote Obama in 2008, thanks to nearly unified white voters, I fail to see how alternate white flight free America in 2008 gives any black person 270 electoral votes.

  • TomIron361

    I always wonder at such lawsuits. Camden has no money. The only money they have is what they con the state or fedgov out of. So where is the money coming from to pay all these people?