Indiana School Found Liable for Essentially Not Doing Enough After Student Reported Racial Threats — Is This a New Precedent?

An Elkhart, Indiana Black student received notes containing racial threats and slurs last March, and now the Indiana Civil Rights Commission has found the girl’s school liable for discrimination based on how administrators mishandled the situation.

According to a June 7 report from Indiana’s WNDU 16 News, the now 13-year-old NyZeria Neely was a student at Concord Intermediate School when she received the notes containing threats and the “n-word.”

Last year, NyZeria received three racially insensitive notes, which were placed in her locker over the course of three weeks, reports WNDU 16 News.

“I was frustrated,” Avonn Pratcher, NyZeria’s father said. “We had tried and tried to speak with the school or try and find out what was going on but they just tried to sweep it up under the rug like it wasn’t a big thing about it, which it was.”

According to an official statement, Concord Community Schools states that the school began investigating immediately.

“That investigation included questioning numerous teachers, students and parents. Handwriting samples were gathered and compared,” the statement explained.

However, the 13-year-old was still suffering.

“I felt like people didn’t want me at the school because of my color and my race,” NyZeria said. “I did fear a little bit of the school because of that incident and then people were telling me to watch my back and stuff like that.”

The young girl — who now attends Pierre Moran Middle School — told reporters that the incident affected her well-being and her ability to learn.

“I was sad and felt betrayed by a lot of people. I started to let people down and stuff like that. Then I had my guard up a lot. When it first happened, I wanted to break down and just start crying and let out all of my emotions and stuff like that. I wouldn’t be my normal self because I was going through a lot.”

Here is an excerpt of the school district’s official statement below:

” … The family ultimately chose to file a charge with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission which recently issued a probable cause finding, allowing the claim to continue and assigning it to a staff attorney for further proceedings. The family’s allegation of racial discrimination was the only such allegation made against Concord Community Schools in a decade. No other student at Concord Intermediate School or any school has submitted a similar complaint. Concord Community Schools remains willing to work diligently through the official process of answering the family’s allegations and is confident that when all facts are known, any court or independent tribunal will determine that Concord Community Schools acted appropriately. Concord Community Schools will never allow an atmosphere of racial discrimination to exist in its schools.”


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