A group of parents and students in the Compton Unified Schools filed a federal lawsuit against the district Monday, alleging a pattern of abuse and racial profiling of Latinos by school police.
In one case, a family alleged that school police targeted a student’s father for arrest and deliberately got him deported after he filed a complaint against an officer.
In another incident, school officers allegedly beat, pepper-sprayed and used a chokehold on a bystander who was taking video of an arrest on his iPod, and erased cellphone videos taken by other students.
The complaint also alleged that police used excessive force against students and parents who protested against district policies, including complaining that English as a Second Language programs were underfunded.
The lawsuit seeks $41 million in damages. It was filed on behalf of five plaintiffs -- three parents, one student and the witness who took the iPod video -- against the Compton Unified School District and its police department, school police Chief Hourie Taylor, the district superintendent and board of trustees, and multiple individual school police officers and security guards.
School district spokesman Ron Suazo declined to comment. Taylor could not be reached.
Lack of Latino political representation has become a hot-button issue in Compton. The city and Compton Community College District have both been hit with lawsuits in recent years alleging that they were violating the voting rights of Latinos, and both changed their election rules as a result.
The student body of the Compton Unified School District is nearly 80% Latino, but the school board and most of the school administrators are African American.