- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Several parents are suing a private, military-style voucher school in Milwaukee, alleging their children were subjected to abuse and humiliating treatment when they attended a boot camp last fall.

The students at Right Step Inc., which serves low-income children, claim the treatment they were subjected to at Fort McCoy included being punched, slapped, kicked and forced to drink from a cup filled with an instructor’s spit. From Sept. 14 to Sept. 27, the students were verbally abused, forced to sleep on a floor on only bed springs, and forced to exercise while receiving limited food and water, according to the lawsuit.

A complaint was filed this week in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on behalf of three parents and seven children, ranging in age from 10 to 17, according to attorney Aaron DeKosky.

“We’re suing for physical abuse, child abuse and humiliation,” DeKosky said.

The families are suing Rebecca Fitch, CEO of Right Step, and Randy Martus, a co-founder of the school.

Fitch’s attorney, Patrick Cavanaugh Brennan, maintains that the allegations of physical and emotional abuse are baseless and unfounded, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1IhVbt6 ) reported.

“It didn’t happen,” he said.

In April, Fitch received a letter from DeKosky, containing vague allegations from parents, Brennan said, adding that he sent the letter back the following month, saying they would respond once their received more details. But Brennan never got the specifics he requested, he said, and now plans to figure out the next step in responding to the complaint once it has been served to Fitch.

Additionally, the three parents are suing the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and state Superintendent Tony Evers for failing, along with Right Step, to “take corrective action against individuals who perpetuated physical abuse,” the complaint states.

Their lawsuit also seeks to name the school’s insurance company and instructors at the boot camp.

The parents “never would have enrolled their children at the school” if they had known about the practices of Right Step, DeKosky said.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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