The Elgin Area School District U-46 board has settled a lawsuit with the family of a boy who was beaten so badly by a classmate that he was left unconscious.
The lawsuit stems back to an incident that occurred in February 2017 at Kenyon Woods Middle School in South Elgin. Henry Sembdner, who was 12 at the time, was beaten by a 14-year-old eighth-grader. The lawsuit said that Sembdner bumped into the older boy in the hallway, and the older student then slammed him into the ground and beat him. The beating was so severe that Sembdner was unconscious and in a coma for five days.
The lawsuit accuses district officials of knowing the danger posed by the attacker, who had a “lengthy history of behavioral infractions, including prior violent attacks against other students.”
The suit also claims that the school didn’t provide Sembdner with adequate care after the attack. The nurse first called Sembdner’s mom, instead of 911, saying that he had a bloody nose and broken tooth. The nurse didn’t tell his mom the full extent of his injuries or that he was knocked unconscious.
When the lawsuit was filed, the family’s attorneys said that the family didn’t hold any ill will toward the student who attacked their son. However, they struggled to find answers from school officials who kept them in the dark after the attack.
“Certainly [the family is] angry and upset about what happened to Henry but they’re also sympathetic to the extent that there’s a young kid out there who clearly has struggles of his own,” said Attorney Lance Northcutt.
The student who attacked Sembdner pleaded guilty to battery in July 2017. He was sentenced in juvenile court to 12 months probation and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service. He was additionally subject to random drug testing, had to go to counseling and write an apology letter to Sembdner.