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Child’s family sues after face-writing incident

May 9, 1997

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ A kindergarten teacher branded and humiliated a girl by scrawling ``Where are my glasses?″ on the child’s face with a marker, her family said in a civil rights lawsuit.

Nina Campbell was ``branded and forced to serve against her will and in a condition of involuntary servitude as a messenger carrying a humiliating message,″ the family alleged in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

The girl, who was 5 at the time of the November incident, had forgotten to wear her eyeglasses to school. The teacher, Phyllis Adelsflugel, said she used a marker to scrawl a reminder across Nina’s face.

Mrs. Adelsflugel is a co-defendant in the lawsuit, along with Charleston County, its school district and Pepperhill Elementary School Principal Mitchell Cohen.

The lawsuit does not specify damages but seeks at least the minimum in federal court for actual damages, which is $50,000.

The Campbells allege in the lawsuit that Nina was ``embarrassed and humiliated″ and required medical and psychological treatment. She now attends another school.

Mrs. Adelsflugel was suspended, required to take sensitivity training and apologize to the family. When she returned to work, demonstrators picketed outside.

The school district had no comment on the lawsuit, spokeswoman Toby Smith said. Mrs. Adelsflugel’s attorney, Denna McRackin, said she had not seen the lawsuit. Cohen said he was not aware of the lawsuit and had no comment.

The lawsuit also alleged that the school district and principal defended Mrs. Adelsflugel’s actions ``in furtherance of the school policy to embarrass and humiliate a black child.″ Nina is black, and Mrs. Adelsflugel is white.

After the incident, the school district superintendent said the teacher showed ``extremely poor judgment.″

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