12-Year Old Girl Defends Self Against Hate Crime, Family Questions Suspension

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Eighth-grader NuPhaeya Hassen, and her grandmother Rita Tillery
Eighth-grader NuPhaeya Hassen, and her grandmother Rita Tillery

A 12-year-old Modesto, Calif. boy has been cited for a hate crime and battery after attacking one of his Black classmates while they waited for the school bus.

NuPhaeya Hassen, 12, a student at La Loma Junior High School, said she was waiting for the school bus on August 24 when the boy came up to her brandishing sticks, holding them in the shape of a cross, while saying he was a member of the Klu Klux Klan. He proceeded to swing the sticks, scratching her arm before Hassen smacked him in defense. When the boy crossed the street, he began throwing rocks at her until the bus arrived.

After school the boy’s sister confronted Hassen about slapping her brother. Hassen said,  “she grabbed my hair, pulled me to ground and then started hitting me in the head repeatedly”.

While both the boy and sister were suspended, Hassen’s grandmother, Rita Trillery, said La Loma administrators imposed a one day of in-school suspension on her granddaughter. In a meeting with school officials, administrators referred to the suspension as a “cool down period” rather than discipline.

The incident has garnered the attention of the local NAACP chapter, which has questioned the Modesto City Schools district’s handling of the matter

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