The family of a Black sixth grader in Texas is suing her school after white students wrapped a rope around her neck and drug her around. The kids had reportedly been bullying the girl for months.
via The Daily Beast:
The $3-million lawsuit accuses Live Oak Classical School in Waco of negligence, gross negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lead attorney on the case is Levi McCathern, who represents the Dallas Cowboys.
When the girl, referred to in the lawsuit as “KP,” transferred to the private school, her family was at first happy that she was receiving a better education.
But soon, she encountered bullying.
“In one incident, the boy pushed KP to the ground in the cubby room, and in the other, he kicked, pushed, and shoved her during a class assignment when the teacher was not looking,” Dallas attorney Levi McCathern wrote.
According to the lawsuit, KP’s mother chose Live Oak—a largely white private school with a pricey tuition rate—and applied for scholarship grants so that her daughter could attend an institution with a “better education” and a “wholesome learning environment.”
Email evidence submitted in the suit shows that the school’s principal, Allison Buras, responded by writing: “It sounds like he may have pushed on the back of her leg to make her leg buckle, which is something the kids sometimes do. Rarely is that done out of meanness but more out of a desire for sport.”
She told KP’s mother that another incident was an accident and “not meant in a mean spirit.”
According to other emails attached to the suit, KP’s mother asked to help chaperone an overnight campout in April because she was nervous about her daughter going on the trip, since she’d been upset about the bullying. Instead, the school chose four other parents. She was reportedly told that the adults would “keep an eye out for KP.”
Seven chaperones were responsible for watching 22 children on the trip. No adults were watching when she was injured, according to the suit.
KP and other children were exploring the property at Germer Ranch in Blanco County and found a rope swing, with a single rope tied at one end to the branch of a tree and at another end to a circular seat.
A second and much longer rope was tied to the seat, for children to pull so that it would swing.
That day, KP was standing to the side of the swing, when behind her, three boys—including her bully—pulled the rope back. Instead of swinging the seat, they allegedly wrapped it around her neck and used it to violently jerk her to the ground.
It cut into her skin, leaving a burn. They did not help her off the ground, the suit alleges.
When she told adults what happened, she was given Vaseline for her neck and Motrin for the pain. None of the adults informed KP’s mother afterward or when they returned the kids to the school to be picked up from the trip.When KP got into the car, her mother immediately noticed the jagged wound on her daughter’s neck. When asked, Buras told her about the rope and was “shocked” when KP’s mother said they would be visiting the emergency room.
Doctors at the hospital reportedly commented on the severity of the injury and then notified police. A crime scene unit took photos for an investigation.
Blanco County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ben Ablon told The Daily Beast that he has begun interviews, obtained initial police reports and requested hospital records in the case. Ablon said he’ll interview every person who was on the trip, including students and chaperones.
“We are still actively working this case,” he said. “It’s going to take a while.”
Ablon has also requested the help of a pediatrician with a specialty in child abuse injuries to review the evidence and scans that were taken during KP’s hospital visit.
KP—who was 12 at the time—was immediately removed from the school, and she’s now receiving treatment and counseling for the injuries she sustained.
McCathern said in a statement that the incident was “racially motivated.” McCathern writes, “Based on the injuries KP sustained, it’s nearly impossible to argue that this was somehow an accident that [sic] could of happened to any child that day, regardless of race. The severity and the specificity of the injury certainly point to this incident being racial.”
Jeremy Counseller, a board member for the school, told the newspaper that “Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.” Counseller described what happened as “accident.”
Waco attorney David Deaconson, who represents Live Oak, told the Waco Tribune-Herald: “anyone can allege anything they want to in a petition, but that doesn’t make it fact.”
“Even if this incident was unintentional,” McCathern wrote, “the school’s lack of supervision to let this happen, dismissive and tone deaf response after it happened, and refusal to investigate until legally prompted to, showed an utter disregard for one of the only African American children in the school.”
The suit is requesting a jury trial and seeking damages for medical expenses, physical pain, disfigurement, and impairment, among other things.
We’d have to sue EVERYBODY. The school, the school district, the teachers, the parents, the students, the school mascot, the lunch ladies — everybody.