A now-former teacher has been charged after a 14-year-old student accused him of punching him in the face and breaking his finger at Jack Benny Middle School in Waukegan.
Brandon Cole, 14, appeared alongside his family and attorney Kevin O’Connor during a press conference last Tuesday.
“I’m really scared because my teacher hit me in the face, broke my finger, bruised my face,” Cole said.
O’Connor said Cole was having an argument with another student. “Instead of the teacher breaking it up, the teacher escalated it and ended up punching and assaulting him.”
Cole’s mother said it is not a “thought that I would ever think could happen to my son.”
Court records show the teacher, Lamont M. Bankston, 49, of Zion, was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery causing bodily harm.
The charge was filed in Lake County Circuit Court today.
Waukegan School District 60 Superintendent Theresa Plascencia sent a letter to parents about the incident.
Plascencia said a “physical altercation” occurred between a student and a substitute teacher, now identified as Bankston, at Jack Benny Middle School last Tuesday morning.
Plascencia called the incident, which occurred in a science classroom, “completely unacceptable.”
“Let me begin by saying that this type of behavior by any trusted adult in one of our schools is completely unacceptable, and any staff conduct that compromises the safety and well-being of students has not and will not be tolerated,” she said.
Bankston has been terminated and will not be working in the school district moving forward.
O’Connor, Cole’s mother and Black Lives Matter Lake County Chapter Founder Clyde McLemore spoke out about the incident during a Waukegan Public Schools board meeting last week.
Plascencia said an investigation is ongoing by authorities and the district is not in a position to discuss further details on it.
“I can assure you that the safety and security of our students has been and continues to be our top priority,” she said in the letter.
Waukegan Deputy Police Chief Joe Florip told Lake and McHenry County Scanner that officers took Bankston into custody the day the incident occurred.
“We know an incident like this can be disturbing. I am feeling the same emotions many of you may be experiencing. Our school staff are entrusted by parents to teach, mentor and protect their children,” Plascencia said.
“This action is a blatant breach of that trust, and I’m truly sorry that this unfortunate incident took place,” she said.
Lake and McHenry County Scanner has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Waukegan Police Department for the police report.
A police department member indicated the report would be heavily redacted if the department decides to release it. The department has until Thursday afternoon to provide a response to Lake and McHenry County Scanner.
Bankston is scheduled to appear in court on November 17 for an arraignment hearing.
He was released from police custody on a personal recognizance bond.