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Local News

Providence sued by parent after expulsion over racist song

NEW LENOX – The father of a student who was expelled from Providence Catholic High School over a racist song has filed a lawsuit against the school and the Diocese of Joliet.

The father also is seeking to reinstate his son at the school or seek judgment on the case based on a temporary restraining order filed against Providence officials. 

The father and his son – a former freshman – are named “John Doe” in the April 28 complaint that alleges the son was “wrongfully removed” from the school in March after an incident in which he played a racist song at a black student and that his removal was a “political response” to a WGN-TV story on the incident.

The complaint argues that while the song had racist language, it “actually mocked and criticized racism.” 

“[The student] is being used as a scapegoat by Providence to respond to an array of social media criticism and media pressure,” the complaint said. 

The Rev. Richard McGrath, president of Providence; school Principal John Harper; the Diocese of Joliet; and the school were named as defendants in the complaint. Calls and emails to McGrath and Harper were not immediately returned late Wednesday afternoon.

The father and son are suing the defendants for breach of contract, violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and false light.

Providence officials expelled the student March 17 after Tianna Waits complained they played a song with racist lyrics at her son. She pulled her son out of school the day after the incident occurred March 13 and he now attends Joliet Central High School.

Waits has said she’d been upset with the multiple times she had to address her son’s treatment at the school and action only was taken after a story from WGN-TV on March 16. 

The complaint alleges the student and Waits’ son were friends socializing with two other students in the school cafeteria March 13. The student played a parody rap song that used “racially insensitive language but as a form of criticizing racist behavior.” 

Waits’ son had asked the student to replay the song and recorded him listening to it on video, according to the complaint. 

The complaint alleges the student did not damage the reputation of Providence or disrupt it, blaming Waits for posting a video of the incident online and the story on it from WGN-TV.

The complaint argues the student was improperly removed from school without a meaningful disciplinary hearing by a committee that was biased against him.

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