Lawsuit against sheriff's department, school district is about justice for Niya, attorney says
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The attorney for a former Spring Valley High School student who was charged following a classroom incident in 2015 involving the school's resource officer says a lawsuit filed against the school district and the sheriff's department is the ensure that this does not happen to another student, she said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Niya Kenny, her mother, and her attorney, Bakari Sellers, discussed the lawsuit filed against the Richland County Sheriff's Department and Richland School District Two Wednesday afternoon. Kenny is now suing for false imprisonment, negligent supervision, and defamation. Kenny's lawsuit says she was arrested after she "protested the assault" of the other student and was wrongly expelled.
"This is not an anti-police, anti-law enforcement lawsuit," Sellers said. "What this is is a 'justice for Niya' lawsuit. What happened to Niya Kenny that day was traumatizing and no parent should have to see their child handcuffed."
The expulsion from Spring Valley High School caused Kenny to not graduate or go to her senior prom. She did earn her GED, and now lives in New York where she works as an intern at the African American Policy Forum.
She said her life after "the most traumatizing things" she's ever experienced is not a sad story, but wants justice for the treatment she received.
"We're taking these actions today to make sure this doesn't happen to another student in District 2," Kenny said.
In October 2015, Kenny was in a classroom at Spring Valley High School when the teacher called School Resource Officer Ben Fields to remove a disruptive student. Kenny questioned Fields as he attempted to remove her classmate from her desk.
Several students used their cell phones to record the video of Fields dragging the female student that made national headlines.
Kenny said she spoke out in defense of her classmate. She was originally charged with disturbing schools but the solicitor dropped the charges against her and Fields.
The student tossed from her chair was charged with disturbing schools.
In 2016, Kenny and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal suit against the state of South Carolina over two state laws regarding the enforcement of disorderly conduct and disturbing schools.
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