Legal Letter(1/19/19)- Covington Catholic Students Should be Investigated for Violating the Beliefs of the Catholic Church (& Assault) in their actions against Native American Elder Nathan Philips in Washington, DC in January 2019.

Jennifer Laskin, Attorney at Law


January 19, 2019

TO:      Principal Robert Lowe, Covington Catholic School

RE:      Violation of School Policy and DC Law

Principal Lowe:

I am a Maryland/ DC based Attorney who has seen what thousands, even millions of people across the world have viewed, your Students and Teachers taunting, teasing, and mocking a Native American Vietnam Veteran on National Mall in Washington DC. This conscious-shocking event occurred on January 18, 2019 at the end of an Indigenous People’s event which drew First Nations people from across the United States. Your students interacted with the drummers and elders as they sang a finishing prayer song.

Witnesses said the following of your adult chaperones:  “They were watching standing off about twenty or thirty feet. They were smirking the whole time. The adult escorts of the Kentucky high school acted so proud of the mob. Abuse was everywhere. All these MAGA hat kids egging each other on. It was a dangerous situation.”

After the incident the Elder man gave a short statement which was posted on Instagram, in the video he is crying.

I infer that your students AND the teachers/ adult chaperones be investigated for criminal conduct under DC Code. The adults should be investigated for Contributing to the delinquency of a minor because they ALLOWED such behavior to occur.

  • 22–404. Assault or threatened assault in a menacing manner; stalking. (a)(1) Whoever unlawfully assaults, or threatens another in a menacing manner, shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or be imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both.
  • 22–811. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (a) It is unlawful for an adult, being 4 or more years older than a minor, to invite, solicit, recruit, assist, support, cause, encourage, enable, induce, advise, incite, facilitate, permit, or allow the minor to: (5) Violate any criminal law of the District of Columbia for which the penalty constitutes a misdemeanor, except for acts of civil disobedience;

I also conclude that your students have violated the both the Beliefs of your school and the Disciplinary Code of Conduct, according to your own Parent/ Student 2018-19 Handbook. (See page 3 and 17 respectively). I will paste the relevant sections at the end of this letter.

According to your own policy: The act of assault of harassment on or off campus of any kind results in SUSPENSION WITH POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION FOR EXPULSION.  The Beliefs of your school which these students and staff have clearly never read include, …respect for self and others…enriching the human spirit through cultural exposure…and creating awareness in students to differentiate and make moral judgements in an often non-Christian world.”

In light of current investigations regarding historical abuse within the Church and the undeniable legacy of violence inflicted upon First Nations thru the Native American Boarding Schools and other atrocities, I expect you to immediately investigate the matter and hold all those responsible fully accountable with the appropriate consequences.

As an Attorney and an Educator (with over 15 years teaching in public high schools) I would NEVER allow students to act this way on a trip nor would any teacher or parent I have ever worked with. I suggest you discipline those teachers with termination, effectively immediately.

I do appreciate the time you have taken to read this letter. I look forward to the public response you make regarding this criminal and immoral incident. I hope you do whatever is in your power and privilege to make this a teachable moment and ensure this never ever happens again.


Jennifer Laskin, Esquire

***Above are excerpts from the Covington Catholic High School 2018-19 Parent/ Student Handbook at:

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