Two elementary students at a Texas school were humiliated, physically and psychologically tortured because of their race, a lawsuit obtained by Atlanta Black Star alleges.
Tatiawana Jackson said her son was choked, punched and tripped by other students, and his teacher would punish him by not allowing him to go to the restroom, leaving him to urinate in his pants. Chanda Johnson’s daughter was slapped so hard by another student that she lost hearing in one ear, and another student bit into her hand to the point where she required stitches, a federal complaint filed on July 28 says.
Staff at a North Pointe Elementary School in Clear Lake City did not report most of the violent attacks the children endured at the school, contrary to district policy. The students identified as John and Jane Doe were the only two Black students at the time, and the school “swept” the “incidents under the rug, rather than deal with the apparent racial discrimination,” the lawsuit alleges.
Attorneys for the families said the Houston Bay Area school’s inaction violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits race discrimination in programs receiving federal funds. Chanda and Tatiawana Jackson are seeking undisclosed damages from the Clear Creek Independent School District.
“For months, John and Jane Does suffered physical and mental abuse that was so severe, pervasive, and offensive that it denied John and Jane Doe their education benefit,” the complaint says.
Lawyers for the children’s parents said staff “turned a blind eye” to the harassment and physical attacks, creating a hostile environment.
According to the lawsuit, John Doe’s teacher did nothing after another student choked him and didn’t tell his parents about that attack or when he was punched in the eye by an older kid. Attorneys for the families said the decision to hide the incidents “goes well beyond neglect until it is better characterized as institutional abuse.”
The lawsuit says that John Doe also faced abuse from his teacher, who repeatedly told him to “hold it” when he asked for a bathroom break while white students were allowed to go to the restroom as needed. John Doe would then be forced to attend classes and aftercare in wet underwear.
The attacks and discrimination were so severe that Jane Doe begged to leave class and asked to go to the school nurse a number of times. The lawsuit alleges that she was not only physically harmed but also called names by other students. In addition to the wound to the hand and damage to her ear, another student stepped on Jane Doe’s fingers and elbowed her arms while her teacher allegedly stood by and said nothing. The teacher instead started complaining about the child’s behavior in progress reports. According to the complaint, she was also made to eat alone without explanation.
Attorneys for the families said, “the discrimination has left the children at times: depressed, sad, traumatized, distraught, with feelings of isolation and loss of self-worth.”
District spokesperson Elaina Polsen told the Houston Chronicle the district had not received the lawsuit as of Aug. 1.
“However, we believe each child, regardless of race or gender, deserves to learn in a physically safe and nurturing environment,” Polsen said in an email statement. “In the event there is an allegation of mistreatment by a CCISD educator, it is investigated, and appropriate discipline is taken if allegations are found to be true.”