A newly released video shows a CPS principal offering an allegedly fabricated story in order to explain why one of her students spent more than 30 minutes outside the school in frigid weather, according to the boy’s family.
The boy “bust through us and went out the door,” Fiske Elementary Principal Cynthia Miller told the boy’s grandfather in the video, describing a scene in which the boy ran through five adults to reach an exit.
It comes on the heels of a separate school surveillance video released five weeks ago showing Miller and a school counselor looking on as a security guard yanked and shoved the boy from the school.
Attorney Dan Herbert, who’s representing the boy’s family — which is suing CPS — released both videos of the March 26 incident.
The just-released video that shows Miller talking to the boy’s grandfather was recorded on the body camera of a Chicago police officer called to the school by staff who — after the boy was allegedly forced out — reported him missing, according to Herbert. A second call to 911 by staff reported the boy was scratching, biting and kicking, he said.
An officer arrived and found the boy, 9, outside the school, where he had sat down and cried after finding every door to the school was locked, Herbert said.
The school, at 6020 S. Langley Ave., is a few blocks southwest of the University of Chicago Medical Center, in the Woodlawn neighborhood.
In the newly released video, Miller rebuked the boy’s grandfather, Billy Pinkston, as he tried to stick up for the child.
“I think you get the real story from him,” Pinkston said, referring to his grandson’s account of being forced from the building.
“No, no, no, no, no, no, no, sir,” Miller said. “He left the building. He made the choice. We had him in here to calm him down, to try to get him to work with us.”
The boy had been in a fight with another student before he was forced from the school, according to family members.
Pinkston, a Chicago police officer, was off duty when he went to the school to pick up his grandson.
The boy’s mother, Yvonne Pinkston, in an interview Monday, wasted no time in describing her reaction to seeing Miller berate her son, who hung his head during the encounter in the principal’s office.
“I was fuming, I was really angry to see that,” she said.
“I want everyone to see this. I want everyone to see the truth. My son is in therapy now. And I want her to be exposed so this won’t happen to anyone else,” she said. “She’s a manipulator.”
Miller retired Oct. 11. and has been placed on the school district’s do-not-hire list, according to CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton.
Attempts to reach Miller were not successful.
Bolton said that — despite an investigation into the matter by CPS officials following a complaint by the boy’s family — CPS “leadership” didn’t become aware of the situation until Herbert released the initial video Oct. 1.
Bolton defined “leadership” as CPS officials at the “chief level” who would need to have been notified “in order for more immediate action to have taken place.”
Bolton went on: “We are evaluating why this was not brought to their attention earlier.”
The security guard has been removed from the school without pay pending formal dismissal proceedings and an investigation is pending into the school counselor involved in the incident, Bolton said.
The boy has enrolled in a different South Side school and is doing well but receives regular counseling due to his time at Fiske, his family said.
The boy was bullied soon after he transferred to the school following a move from Lafayette, Indiana — where his mother attends Purdue University — to live with his grandparents on the South Side, Herbert said.
Herbert said school officials came to see the boy as a problem child because he continually complained he was being bullied, and viewed his family, who also complained, as a problem as well.
Attorney Kelly Krauchun, who also represents the family, called the videos, “incredibly disturbing.”
“In order to cover up her actions of misconduct against this child, this principal tried to tell the family that the boy was lying, and all along what the child said happened was exactly factually correct,” she said.