Girl’s severed finger leads mother to sue Hamilton public school board for $1M

Click to play video: 'Family launches lawsuit against Hamilton school after girl loses part of her finger'
Family launches lawsuit against Hamilton school after girl loses part of her finger
A mother is speaking out after her daughter lost part of her finger in an alleged bullying incident at a Hamilton, Ont., school. The mother is now taking legal action. Kayla McLean reports – Mar 29, 2023

The mother of a five-year-old who’s taking legal action against Hamilton’s public school board insists “parental rights failed to be respected” after her daughter’s finger was partially severed by a door at Prince of Wales Elementary School.

Sjanita-Marie Harrison said Tuesday the incident could have been prevented had the school board followed the “proper protocols and procedures” to keep her daughter safe.

“Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) doesn’t seem to have,” Harrison said. “All of this could have been prevented had they done what I trusted them to do.”

The $1 million claim alleges Autymn-Rose Harrison was in the bathroom of her junior kindergarten classroom last November during a lunch hour when another student slammed the door on her hand during an altercation.

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The claim states that the altercation was with “two other children,” characterized in the suit as “bullies.”

Autymn-Rose was rushed to hospital as a finger required surgery to have the tip re-attached.

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Sjanita Harrison alleges her child was placed in an ambulance, “unaccompanied by school personnel,” and was left bleeding profusely from the fingertip.

“She had (also) hit her head and was in obvious distress, both physically and emotionally and mentally,” Harrison said.

“Throughout this entire process, of my child being in this condition, I was left in the dark.”

It would take four days following the incident to be given a further explanation and an incident report from Prince of Wales, according to Harrison.

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In December, the family reached out to HWDSB after receiving a bill for ambulance service and was told the matter had been “escalated” to a superintendent.

However, Harrison said no offer of any solution was given on how to move forward.

“My baby girl deserves dignity and proper treatment from school personnel,” Harrison said Tuesday out front of the HWDSB office in Education Court.

“The school failed to provide me with proper, truthful, accurate documentation of the incident.”

She went on to say that she has relocated her family due to “being afraid” after the trauma.

Harrison is calling for the resignation of multiple staff and board members and for changes to occur at the board so this doesn’t happen to other young students.

None of the claims in Harrison’s allegations have been tested in court.

HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop told Global News in an email the board members were “sorry the injury took place” and wished the injured child well in her recovery.

However, due to the legal claim, the board was unable to comment further.

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“We are conducting our own investigation and we will work through the legal process that is before us,” McKillop wrote.

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