The student was repeatedly referred to by the ‘N-word’ and was subjected to a barrage of other racial epithets, the lawsuit states. The 14-year-old boy was also shown hate-based depictions of a KKK member holding a torch and noose, taunted as the brunt of a ‘slave auction’ and chased and ridiculed with a stuffed monkey. The mother often spoke with the Director of Schools about her concerns over the race-related harassment of her son. She also shared her concern about the disparity in disciplinary action taken against her son, as contrasted with the lack of disciplinary action against the white student.
The lawsuit describes the details of what were alleged to be racially motivated attacks. According to the suit, three of the attacks were videoed and posted online by students. Now, the student’s mother, Erika Qualls, is seeking an injunction against the school to prevent future abuse and $2,500,000 in damages, Times News reports. According to the lawsuit, the student was racially bullied and harassed for months. The mother’s attorney, Larry Crain, said that there’s been documented incidents in this case of no fewer than 12 racial harassment episodes, ABS repots.
The 14-year-old boy (only identified as K.R. in the lawsuit), who attended CHMS in Tenn., has a white mother and Black father. According to the lawsuit, the student was victimized and faced racist bullying for months by white students. The middle school had only 5 Black students out of 400 total this past school year. Per reports, the federal lawsuit filed against the school district lists several incidents of the alleged harassment. According to the lawsuit, the 14-year-old student was reportedly called racial epithets and harassed by a drawing depicting a KKK member holding a torch and noose standing over what was described as “monkey island.”
On March 1, 2022, a drawing depicting an image of a KKK member holding a torch and noose, standing over “Monkey Island”, was passed around the school cafeteria. A white student handed the drawing to K.R. as several of his white peers were laughing and mocking the drawing as though they found it humorous, the lawsuit states. The boy went home and shared his emotional reaction and frustration with the discriminatory drawing and his fellow students’ racial behavior.
The lawsuit also states that the child was “a victim of a slave auction” and he was “nominated as monkey of the month” by white students at the school. On March 8, 2022, five white students entered the Boy’s Restroom and confronted the student. One of the students used his cell phone to videotape this encounter, while another student chased the boy out of the restroom holding a stuffed monkey. The video of this assault was posted on Snapchat later that afternoon and distributed to several students in the student’s class under the caption: “Monkey chasing Monkey!”
A white male student named reportedly began promoting what he referred to as the “Monkey of the Month Campaign.” According to this school-wide campaign, the student “who acted the most ‘N-word’” would be elected “Monkey of the Month.”
In another racially-motivated incident, white male student reportedly called the student a retarded ‘N-word.’ The student published a video with a photograph taken of the back of his hand where he had written in black ink the words: “N-word N-word.” In another instance, white students inflated gloves and put depictions of African-Americans on them and stabbed the gloves. According to the lawsuit, a white male student approached K.R. at school and gave him a clothing tag from his shirt which read “100% Cotton”. The student then stated to K.R.: “Thanks, for picking my shirt this morning, N-word.”
The boy’s mother reportedly tried to get school officials to intervene, with little success. She reportedly met with the Director of schools, Matt Hixson. During this meeting, Director Hixson stated that the school administration was not going to focus on past incidents, but work hard to make sure they didn’t have any more racially motivated incidents.
He also blamed the COVID-19 epidemic for the outbreak of racial hatred among the students, whom he said spent so much time at home during the pandemic. According to the family’s attorney, in some cases, the school officials blamed the 14-year-old student for being victimized, discouraging him from coming forward, although the bullying continued.