Lawsuit: Black student faced racial taunts, called ‘snitch’

June 14, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A black elementary student endured months of racial harassment in New Mexico and was later called a “snitch” after he reported the verbal abuse to a teacher, according to a new federal lawsuit.

Court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque this week said the boy faced “escalating race-based and physical harassment” from January to April this year at Parkview Elementary School in Socorro, New Mexico, and that teachers did little or nothing to stop it.

According to the lawsuit, other students directed racial epithets at the boy, identified only by his initials, and made racist “your mama” jokes about the boy’s mother, who is also black. One student repeatedly called the boy a “snitch” after he reported an episode to a teacher. The same student later physically attacked the boy, the lawsuit alleged.

The victimized boy’s parents tried repeatedly to convince school officials to intervene but the lawsuit said the abuse continued and that school officials made excuses, including blaming the boy for not reporting all the of alleged episodes.

The boy was eventually suspended from school and now is being homeschooled, the lawsuit said. The suspension came after school officials said the boy removed a hat from a friend’s head and tacked him during a game but the boy’s parents believe he was suspended because they reported the alleged harassment, court documents said. The lawsuit does not say what grade the boy was in or how old he is.

“This race-based harassment and bullying created a hostile education environment,” the lawsuit said. “Defendant Socorro Consolidated School District failed to address incidents of race-based harassment or had actual knowledge that any attempted remedial measures it took to address the race-based harassment were ineffective.”

Socorro Consolidated Schools Superintendent Ron Hendrix said the district could not comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in monetary damages and a judge’s order for the school district to adopt bullying prevention programs. The district has policies against bullying, according to its student handbook.

Socorro is a small city about 80 miles (129 kilometers) south of Albuquerque.

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