Metro Weekly

Principal Sued for Threatening to Kill Gay Couple’s Son

A federal lawsuit alleges a Milwaukee school administrator threatened and abused a student because the boy's parents are gay.

Kasongo Kalumbula – Photo: Facebook

A Milwaukee school principal has been sued in federal court by a gay couple who allege he bullied, harassed, threatened, and assaulted their son for having two same-sex parents, violating the child’s civil rights in the process.

The parents, referred to as M.P. and T.L. in the lawsuit, claim that Kasongo Kalumbula allegedly mistreated their son because of his family’s makeup.

The lawsuit, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, asks for a jury trial and seeks an undetermined amount in damages.

It alleges that Kalumbula, who served as the assistant principal, and later, acting principal, of the Milwaukee French Immersion School from September 2018 to October 2021, physically and verbally abused the child — who was in first grade when the harassment started — and routinely singled him out for discipline.

In 2018, the first-grader was subjected to homophobic bullying on the playground by a student with a history of disciplinary issues, including having punched a gay teacher, a development of which the lawsuit claims school officials were aware.

Kalumbula later pulled the couple’s son from class, made him stay in a separate room for hours, and forced him to tell M.P. over the phone that the altercation had been his fault.

When M.P. arrived at school and met with Kalumbula to express his concerns, the assistant principal took offense that M.P. wouldn’t accept his preferred version of events. “No queer is going to speak to me like this!” he allegedly screamed at M.P.

When the parents unsuccessfully sought to complain to district officials, the lawsuit alleges, Kalumbula “began a campaign of harassing and threatening conduct” targeting the child over the next several years, as reported by Milwaukee CBS affiliate WDJT-TV.

In the spring of 2019, Kalumbula allegedly locked the child in a dark room for more than an hour, and threatened to kill him if he told anyone about it. 

While the harassment did not continue while schools were closed for in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2021, just a month before schools reopened, Kalumbula was named acting principal.

Shortly after returning to school, the gay couple’s son was — once again — bullied by other students for having gay parents. When their son reacted angrily, Kalumbula allegedly reprimanded the child for his reaction, telling him that most people believe it’s wrong to be gay, and that he had been raised to believe that gay people are “evil” and will “burn in hell.”

In September 2021, the new full-time principal at the Milwaukee French Immersion School told Kalumbula that the parents had contacted her with concerns. That day, Kalumbula allegedly approached the child and shoved him against a wall. A few days later, he “grabbed the child by the arm and pulled him into the office.” 

The lawsuit claims nothing was ever done to stop the bullying and harassment of the couple’s son at the hands of other students.

When the parents tried to contact district officials about Kalumbula’s harassment, they claim their inquiries either went ignored or no action was taken to discipline or reprimand the acting principal. In fact, the lawsuit alleges, MPS officials eventually moved him to another school — Bethune Academy — and promoted him to principal.

Following his departure, some teachers and parents loyal to Kalumbula spread rumors and wrote posts on social media claiming that M.P. and T.L. were responsible for his exit. Those teachers loyal to Kalumbula also began singling out the couple’s son for discipline. The environment became so hostile that M.P. and T.L. removed all their children from the school and moved them to another district.

M.P. and T.L. also claim their son has had to seek out, and still receives, psychological treatment for trauma and anxiety caused by Kalumbula’s actions.

The lawsuit argues that by discriminating and singling out G.L. for these harsh treatments, Kalumbula violated both the child’s Fourteenth Amendment rights and those of his parents, violated G.L.’s Fourth Amendment right to be free from excessive force and unreasonable search and seizure, and retaliated against the family when M.P. and T.L.  complained to Milwaukee Public Schools officials about Kalumbula’s conduct.

The lawsuit also names the Milwaukee School Board of Directors, which is accused of failing to reprimand Kalumbula or stop the abuse and harassment. 

The lawsuit claims that at least three other LGBTQ families left the Milwaukee French Immersion School due to Kalumbula’s “discriminatory attitudes.”

Kalumbula did not respond to an inquiry from Metro Weekly seeking comment. 

A spokesman for Milwaukee Public Schools responded to a request for comment with the following statement:

“In accordance with District policy and Federal and State law, the District does not comment on the circumstances of our individual students and their families,” the statement reads. “Personnel matters are addressed according to District policy. The District takes its responsibility for students seriously and acts when issues are identified.”

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