A school district may face a civil-rights lawsuit after a boy was suspended for fighting a student who called him the N-word.
Blaine Jones, a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh, Penn., tells Yahoo Lifestyle that his 15-year-old son received a three-day suspension from South Fayette High School in McDonald for striking a boy who is known to harass students of color.
On Wednesday, Jones’ son joined his friends at a lunch table where a male student had already sat down. “The kid looked up at him and said, ‘N*****,’” Jones tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “My son said, ‘What did you say to me?’ and the kid repeated the word, saying, ‘What are you going to do about it?’”
Jones showed Yahoo Lifestyle text messages, allegedly from the boy to his son’s friend, in which he called black people “Monkey.” He says the boy also teased an Asian student for the shape of her eyes.
“My son put him in a chokehold,” says Jones, showing Yahoo Lifestyle a cell phone video of the fight that stopped when teachers separated them. “What did you say? What did you call me?” Jones’ son said in the video.
Jones and his wife met with the school principal, who scheduled a Thursday meeting with Kenneth F. Lockett, the superintendent of South Fayette Township School District.
“Considering that my son was called the N-word last year by another student — for which no action was taken by the school — and this kid’s history of harassment, I expected due process for my child,” Jones tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “But they just reiterated language from the handbook about behavior codes.”
According to Jones, he asked whether the school would provide diversity training to the staff and students. “The room was embarrassingly silent,” he says.
On Thursday night, Jones learned that both boys were suspended for three days. “My son should be disciplined for putting his hands on the student, but the school isn’t looking at the totality of this.” His son, a star student and volleyball player, is expected back in class on Monday.
A representative of South Fayette Township School District tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “The safety and well-being of all our students is our number-one priority, and we take all incidents that violate our policies seriously. Upon becoming aware of yesterday’s incident, our administration immediately investigated. Based on the findings, both students have been disciplined and are facing the consequences of their actions according to our policies. We cannot discuss the details of the incident or related punishment.”
The father wants school administrators to resolve “systemic racism” that pervades the school. “I have dozens of testimonies from students who have been targets of racism,” he says. “Bullies are allowed to thrive, unchecked and African-American students are suffering in silence.”