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ABSS facing federal suit over student ‘brutally stabbed’ at Cummings High School

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A former Cummings High School student, Makiya Bradsher, has filed a lawsuit against the Alamance-Burlington school system and a teacher, identified as Tonya Jane Cope, for allegedly failing to protect her from being brutally stabbed – nine times in the head, face, and chest – at the high school on October 11, 2022.

The lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, seeking to collect punitive damages against both Cope and the school board, whom Bradsher contends failed to adequately supervise the teacher and to prevent student violence, under multiple alleged claims for relief.

Makiya Bradsher, who filed the suit with her mother, Shannon Bradsher, claims she was brutally stabbed by another student in her classroom – identified as Meyka Haith Herbin, who is described as having a “long, documented history of violence and crime – while waiting for her first-period class to begin.

The suit alleges that Haith-Herbin had entered the classroom and “announced her intention to fight Makiya” and that Cope permitted Haith-Herbin to launch into a verbal attack before repeatedly stabbing Bradsher. Cope allegedly made no effort to intervene.

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The suit lists Makiya Bradsher, 18, and her mother, Shannon Bradsher, as residents of Burlington, and Tonya Cope as a resident of Graham.

Makiya Bradsher is described as having been an active, engaged student at Cummings High School – “involved in school activities, extracurricular activities, and nominated to the Homecoming Court” – prior to the alleged attack in October 2022.

Her suit contends that Haith-Herbin enrolled at Cummings in August 2022 but had a known criminal history and was believed to have been on probation at the time for previous criminal convictions.

While Bradsher claims that Haith-Herbin initially tried to befriend her, she “repeatedly denied these requests, as she was aware of Haith-Herbin’s criminal and violent history,” according to her suit.

Makiya Bradsher contends that Haith-Herbin tried to provoke a fight with her the morning of October 11, shouting at Bradsher, “Do you want to fight me?” before “publicly [forecasting] her intent to physically attack Makiya [Bradsher],” the suit alleges.

“Haith-Herbin approached Makiya, pulled out a knife and began to physically beat and stab Makiya,” the complaint states.

Makiya Bradsher alleges to have been “stabbed nine times in the head, face, and chest and suffered lacerations and trauma” requiring four staples in her head and three stitches in her face near her temple. “Had the head injuries been mere centimeters from where they were, Makiya could have been killed,” the plaintiffs contend.

Cope is named as a defendant because she “had personal knowledge or actual notice of a student altercation or other situation” that posed an immediate threat to safety and did nothing to intervene. Bradsher’s suit contends that Cope should have admonished Haith-Herbin when she first announced her intention to assault the other student; and she could have sought help from other school employees, including the school resource officer, but instead stood “idly by” and was deliberately indifferent to the threat.

“Defendant Cope fostered a classroom environment that, despite the danger posed by Haith-Herbin, permitted her student the freedom …to perform her armed assault on Makiya without interruption,” the complaint alleges.

The school board is named as a defendant for allegedly breaching its duty to provide adequate training to staff to recognize threats and prevent violence at school, or to prevent students from entering schools with weapons, among other alleged negligent breaches of its duties.

Makiya Bradsher claims she left Cummings and never returned, and has continued to “suffer physical, emotional, and pecuniary losses, including but not limited to physical injury,” as well as scars, disfigurement, and permanent injury.

In addition to damages, the plaintiffs are seeking recovery of costs and attorneys’ fees related to the court action. They are being represented by the Edwards Beightol law firm in Raleigh.

Neither ABSS nor Cope had filed a response by press time.

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