An Indian American family in Oak Brook, Ill., April 14 filed a $50 million federal lawsuit against Butler Elementary District 53 over allegations of cheating in a geography bee.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois by Rahul Julka on behalf of his two sons, Julka’s wife Komal Julka confirmed in a Chicago Tribune report.
Komal Julka told the Tribune that the lawsuit isn’t about the money, but more about her two sons, students in the district, who have been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment related to allegations of cheating in last year’s geography bee, the report said.
Additionally, it was filed to bring attention to the situation her family is dealing with, the report added.
"It really isn't about the money, but if we filed the suit for $10, nobody would pay attention. We want people to know what's going on here,” she told the Chicago Tribune. She said that the family is doing all the work in the lawsuit.
The school district last year alleged that the Julkas intentionally obtained test questions in advance of the 2016 National Geographic Bee.
Those allegations led to Rahul Julka, a surgeon in DuPage County, filing a civil complaint against the Board of Education of District 53 last June (see India-West story here).
A district investigation led to sanctions against the family, and banned the then 9- and 11-year-old boys from competitions within the district.
Komal Julka was also accused to have registered as a fraudulent home school provider, and emails allegedly showed she paid for the questions with her credit card after creating a school name and address.
The Julkas have denied all allegations.
Julka said she and her husband believed the federal lawsuit was necessary because last year’s lawsuit doesn't allow them an opportunity to tell their entire story, the Tribune reported.
District 53 Superintendent Heidi Wennstrom told the Tribune, “It is unfortunate to see these frivolous lawsuits continue as they drain public resources and detract from our focus on achieving our core mission.”
A hearing on the DuPage court case is scheduled for 9 a.m. April 25, the report said.