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Parents sue Evanston school officials and police for civil rights violations

June 04, 2022

Press Release

For Immediate Distribution

On May 23, 2022, the Law Office of Jordan Marsh filed a lawsuit on behalf of three mothers whose sons are current and former students at Evanston Township High School (“ETHS”).  The lawsuit, filed against ETHS School District 202, the City of Evanston, and a number of ETHS officials and Evanston police officers, alleges multiple civil rights violations, including false arrest, unlawful detention, interference with parent-child relationship, and violation of Illinois law relating to the notification of parents when their children are being detained and questioned on school grounds.

The lawsuit arises from a December 16, 2021 incident in which ETHS was placed on lockdown when officials found two firearms in student backpacks.  The students at issue in this lawsuit were never suspected of possessing firearms.  Instead, they were brought to the Dean’s office, detained and questioned without notification to their parents, and then transported in handcuffs to the Evanston Police station, based on speculation they had smoked marijuana in a school bathroom.  According to the lawsuit, no evidence was ever discovered that any of the students had smoked marijuana in any bathroom.

The lawsuit alleges school officials actively prevented the students from contacting their parents, hanging up one student’s phone when he tried to call his mother.  According to the complaint, one official called the mother of a student, lied to her about why he was calling, and asked if she would call her son to find out where he was.  When she complied, police officers were sent to a classroom, where they handcuffed him and placed him in custody in front of his fellow students.  He was later released without charges.  There was no basis to believe he had committed any offense.   

Two parents waited for hours in a school vestibule, desperately seeking information on their children while police officers swarmed the building.  Officials refused to allow the parents into the school and refused to provide information about their children, who were being detained and questioned in violation of Illinois law.  

“The defendants in this case were entrusted with these kids to protect and educate them,” said attorney Jordan Marsh, who filed the lawsuit.  “Not only did they fail to protect them, they treated them like criminals without any basis to believe they had done anything wrong, and actively kept them separated from their parents during one of the most traumatic and stressful periods of their lives.

“Imagine if your strongest memory of high school was being apprehended, detained and interrogated by school officials, prevented from speaking to your parents, and taken into police custody in handcuffs – when you had done nothing wrong.  Imagine what that does to a young person’s mindset, and his faith in the institutions that are supposed to protect him and keep him safe.”     

The lawsuit is pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

All inquiries should be directed to Law Office of Jordan Marsh.

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