BROOKLYN, NY (PIX11)—He claims that he was bullied to the point of blindness. That's what Kardin Ulysse, 14, said happened to him at his school, and because it wasn't the first time that the eighth grader has been injured at Junior High School 78 in Bergen Beach, he, his family and their lawyer accuse the school of turning a blind eye to a pervasive problem.
"I can't see from my right eye," Ulysse said in his attorney's office Tuesday afternoon, "And I don't feel very good because I can't see from it and I want to see from it."
"He's going to have to have an eye transplant," the boy's father said. "There's no guarantee he's going to see again in the right eye."
A Department of Education report says the beating took place in the cafeteria of the junior high, which is also called the Roy H. Mann School, on East 68th Street. Around 8:00 A.M. on June 5th, according to the notice of claim filed against the city in the case, a seventh grade boy pinned Kardin down and beat him, and another seventh grader also joined in. They yelled anti-gay slurs at him while slugging him, leaving his glasses smashed.
One of the eyes behind his glasses was in such bad shape that Kardin Ulysse has had to have three surgeries so far. His father points out, however, that the boy has been abused at the school in the past. Last October, Kardin's other eye was damaged during a beating by students.
"They kept asking him for money, and he refused," Pierre Ulysse said. "[They] jump on him, [and] beat him up. ...I've been complaining about bullying that's happened many, many times before."
A source connected to the school told PIX11 News that its principal, Jacek Polubiec, isn't doing enough to keep students in line. Ironically, Mr. Polubiec posted an entry on his blog http://iulc21.ning.com last school year about the importance of his school being a "no bully zone."
He added in the post about the school, which he had just taken over as principal, that "the anti-bullying policy and peer mediation program play a big role in the school culture."
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott praised the principal, telling PIX11 News that Mr. Polubiec acted swiftly to get the attack stopped and to discipline the accused attackers, who now face a juvenile criminal trial. He also said that the frequent complaints of bullying claimed by the Ulysse Family don't mean the school has a severe bullying problem.
"I don't think there's anything extraordinary happening at the school as far as more bullying taking place at one school as opposed to another," Walcott said. "So we're going to follow up and our staff are going to stay on top of it, police are involved."
However, the family of the eighth grader who may never see again out of one eye begs to differ. "If they were doing what they were supposed to be doing," Pierre Ulysse said, "My child would never have lost the right eye."
The Ulysse Family did not comment about their son's sexual orientation. Instead, their attorney, Sanford Rubenstein, said the homophobic words used against his client "were meant to hurt."
This week, Rubenstein, one of the most prominent civil rights lawyers in the city, if not the country, filed a notice of claim with the city comptroller's office, seeking damages of $16 million. If the city government doesn't settle the case, which it is not expected to do, it's likely to end up in state supreme court. The separate criminal case against Kardin Ulysse's alleged attackers is ongoing.