Parents upset with school’s handling of racist message
The parents of an African-American high school freshman in Texas said they are livid with their daughter’s school district for not doing enough to discipline a student who sent her a racist message saying “we should have hung all u n*****s while we had the chance.”
The white male student – who also is a ninth-grader at The Woodlands High School in Conroe – sent the direct message, adding “trust me it would make the world better.”
R.J. King, the father of the 13-year-old girl who received the harassing text, said it was sent via Snapchat on September 24. His daughter took a screen shot and saved it.
The matter has not been addressed swiftly enough by the school, King told CNN.
“Immediately after she received the message, she showed it to me,” he said about his daughter. “It was a traumatizing statement. It has traumatized my daughter and makes her fear for her life right now. It took me a few times to read it for it to sink in. I was disturbed.”
The conversation between the teens began after they were discussing the “recent NFL protests” and “white supremacy marches on the East Coast,” King told CNN. While the two teens involved “followed each other on social media” and were classmates at the school, “they were not friends,” according to the girl’s parents.
King said the incident happened late on a Sunday night, so he and his wife went to the school “first thing Monday morning to contact the principal.”
“Initially, their reaction was serious, and we thought this was going to be handled in a serious manner,” King told CNN. “We want to know what happened.”
The student did have his electronics taken away from him while in class, according to King, as well as his class schedule changed as a way to “make sure the kids didn’t see each other at school,” King said.
Even so, the two found each other face-to-face in the halls a few days after the incident. His daughter, King said, “suffered a panic attack.”
“Although the comments made on Snapchat occurred over a weekend and not on campus, Conroe ISD does not tolerate behavior of this type,” the Conroe Independent School District said in a statement to CNN. “The campus administered several levels of disciplinary consequences and continues to work with the students involved and their parents. While student privacy laws will not allow us to comment specifically about student discipline, this matter is being addressed in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct.”
That’s not enough accountability for the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice, which is representing the King family. It said “the school is showing a nonchalant attitude.”
“[The student] should have been sent away to another school,” coalition official Johnny Mata told CNN. “He should have been disciplined. This gives an example to other students that nothing is going to happen to them if they do something like it.”
“It seems that the Conroe ISD has already made up their mind that next to nothing will happen,” King family attorney Randall Kallinen said.
A spokeswoman for the Conroe district told CNN, in addition to contacting an on-campus police officer, officials referred the case to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. An official at the sheriff’s office said it was “not involved in the case” and referred all comments to the county district attorney.
Montgomery County’s chief juvenile prosecutor told CNN, while the incident is “frustrating,” it would not have qualified for a criminal offense.
“For it to qualify as an offense in Texas, with this particular scenario, I would need an actual specific threat to the person,” Marc Brumberger told CNN. “The statement was offensive and racially bigoted, but it was not threatening anyone. There’s a harassment charge in Texas which could encompass offense remarks, but I would have had to have repeated instances of it. This, as I understand it, was not.”
“The school said they would do everything they can,” King told CNN. “The punishment should fit what he did, by removing him from the district. When something of this magnitude happens, you’re sending a message to black kids, not only my daughter, but another 4½-thousand black kids that are part of this district that that message wasn’t serious enough to take action. That message wasn’t serious enough to hold this kid accountable to saying these types of evil and disturbing things.”