The lawsuit towards a mockingbird ends with an settlement

A racial discrimination lawsuit recently ended when the Middlesex County School District agreed to settle for $ 25,000.

The Middlesex County School District recently agreed to pay $ 25,000 to settle a racial harassment lawsuit filed by a Jonas Salk Middle School student in the lawsuit, identifying the student by her initials only because of her age. The student was represented by Costello & Mains from Mount Laurel. The company receives US $ 6,466.75 while the remainder of the US $ 25,000 will be “deposited in a trust for the minor regulated by the Middlesex County Surrogate”.

Gavel and two hardback books on wooden table; Image by Succo via

What happened? Why was the lawsuit filed? It all started when the school’s language teacher, Barbara Hauser, was teaching Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” in December 2019. The novel is about “Racial Inequality in a Small Alabama Town During the Depression”. During the class, Hauser began to discuss the issue of racism. During this discussion, Hauser “used the N-word several times,” according to the lawsuit.

The student was the only African American in the class, and as such, many of her fellow students asked her if she was okay. According to the lawsuit, the young child began to cry. From there, Hauser also asked the child if she was okay, “and started asking other students if the student was angry with them, and then started running the student’s back.” The lawsuit states: “At no point did Hauser apologize for using the racist term.”

Soon after, the child’s mother found out about the incident and contacted a counselor. However, the deputy principal, “who spoke to other students and reviewed the incident, told the mother that Hauser used the word in an” appropriate context, “” the lawsuit said.

Before anything useful could be done about the matter, the school went into winter break. When school resumed after the break, “Hauser told the class where she grew up and had friends from different backgrounds.” Seems innocent enough, doesn’t it? Not correct. Unfortunately, the lawsuit alleged that Hauser “used a mocking accent to imitate the mother of an Asian friend” during that discussion. There happened to be a handful of Asian students in the classroom.

The lawsuit also alleged that the harassment was “deliberate, intentional and willful” and that the school district was liable for “failure to adequately promulgate a policy prohibiting harassment”.

The district defended the allegations, saying it “acted in good faith without malicious intent”.


The “To Kill a Mockingbird” lawsuit pays $ 25,000 in Old Bridge

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