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updated: 4/23/2014 2:12 PM

Former St. Charles East student sues over bullying, hazing

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  • Daniela Kapusta, a former St. Charles East High School student, is suing District 303 and her former drill team coaches, seeking damages for what she claims was intentional infliction of emotional distress.

       Daniela Kapusta, a former St. Charles East High School student, is suing District 303 and her former drill team coaches, seeking damages for what she claims was intentional infliction of emotional distress.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
 

A former St. Charles East student argues in a lawsuit she was bullied, assaulted and hazed by her drill team teammates after being diagnosed with ADHD in summer 2010, and that school officials and coaches did nothing to stop it.

Daniela Kapusta, 18, a part-time model and student at a four-year college, also argues her coaches retaliated against her for reporting the bullying, and she's seeking damages from District 303, coaches and administrators for emotional distress.

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"It went on from the time that she began on the drill team (in 2009) and progressively got worse and worse and culminated during her senior year," said Angela Kurtz, Kapusta's attorney.

According to the lawsuit, Kapusta was diagnosed in July 2010 with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and her teammates began calling her names and saying she was "crazy."

At the start of the 2010-2011 school year, she was "kidnapped" by seniors on the team and forced to wear a costume for an "initiation" ritual.

The lawsuit also argues Kapusta had an excused absence from a non-mandatory team building activity, but her coaches suspended her anyway and merely said "girls will be girls" when told about bullying.

The suit also argues several coaches and administrators retaliated against Kapusta to make her feel excluded from the team, such as not informing her of mandatory practices, withholding the official drill team costume from her, and imposing rules and requirements on her that were different from her teammates.

Kapusta suffered from years of depression and required hospitalization. During her senior year she was featured as a model on the Vogue Italia website after being noticed at a local charity fashion show. She also served as a student adviser on the board of a suicide prevention club.

"There was a widespread pattern of Daniela being bullied by her peers and going to the school directors and nothing being done," Kurtz said.

District 303 spokesman Jim Blaney deferred inquiries to Superintendent Don Schlomann, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

A message left for St. Charles East Principal Charlie Kyle, who also is a defendant in the lawsuit, was not returned.

The lawsuit demands a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages. All parties are due in court July 10.

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