The mother of a fifth grader at Santiago Elementary School in Santa Ana, California, held a protest on Monday, March 6 to demand answers from the school after she claimed her daughter was bullied and called a slave.
Jasmine Harris said that the alleged incident took place on March 1 during lunch. Her 10-year-old daughter, Paris Barnes, was playing with friends when, according to her account, a male classmate whipped a jump rope at her and told her “Get back to work, you slave.”
“They’re sweeping it underneath the rug,” said Harris.
Harris said that she was not pleased with the response she got from administrators on campus or the Santa Ana Unified School District. She wanted to know whether the little boy was disciplined. She also took to social media to garner support for her daughter.
“It was very disrespectful and I just felt really hurt inside,” Barnes said.
Harris, along with a dozen other parents, held a small protest on the sidewalk adjacent to the school on Monday afternoon.
“I want the little boy to get expelled. I want them to do something about this,” Harris said.
Harris has pressed charges against the minor boy through the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for a hate crime and attempted assault on a minor, according to ABC 7 News. A spokesperson with the DA’s office said the office can’t comment on cases that involve a minor.
Jessica Garcia and Maria Gomez were two of the parents among the dozen that protested. Both expressed their dissatisfaction of how the incident was handled by school administrators.
“I don’t think it’s fair that so many parents are going through the same thing,” said Garcia. “They see that it’s so many kids involved and there’s nothing being done about it.”
“There’s clearly a [systemic] issue that no one is paying attention to,” Gomez said.
Jerry Almendarez, the school district superintendent, told ABC 7 News that his staff is working with the two families for them to sit down and come up with a solution. He also indicated there is a formal independent investigation ongoing.
“My heart goes out to Paris, to the young lady, and I just want to make sure that she gets the support that the student needs, but also making sure that we also provide the support so this doesn’t happen again,” Almendarez said.
Harris’ daughter said she doesn’t feel comfortable going back to school as of right now.
“I’m not really comfortable going back to school because I don’t know if he’ll do it again because no one really, like, said if he was going to be in that much trouble,” Paris said.
A school district spokesperson said that the school could not make information public regarding the disciplinary action of a student.