CONCORD, N.H. (CN) – A mother says she had to withdraw her son from high school because its administrators refused to protect him from daily racial taunts and threats, including a threat “to burn a cross on his front yard while wearing a white hood.”
Bethany Thompson sued the Raymond School District, its superintendent, and the principal and assistant principal of Raymond High School, in a federal civil rights complaint, on her own behalf and for her son, T.T.
She says her son was called “‘Nigger,’ on a daily basis,” threatened with physical harm and subjected to “constant humiliation” so severe he became sick and refused to go to school. But school leaders, who were aware of the harassment, responded by sending him “truancy letters threatening police action and court costs and fines if he continued to miss school. All the while allowing a racially hostile environment to persist and failing to discipline the student perpetrators,” according to the complaint.
“When school districts and its administrators are made aware of ongoing student-on-student racial harassment in their schools, they have a legal obligation to root it out and adequately discipline student perpetrators to prevent continued harassment,” the complaint states.
“Here, however, the defendants did the exact opposite. Throughout the 2010-2011 calendar school year T.T. suffered constant humiliation at he hands of his classmates, being called the most sensitive and extreme racial epithet, ‘Nigger,’ on a daily basis. He was threatened physical harm when a student threatened to burn a cross on his front yard while wearing a white hood and on another day, a student threw a KKK book at him, asking him if he wanted to learn something. Every single incident of racial harassment was immediately reported to the defendants and its school administrators who sat back and took little, if any, action to discipline the student perpetrators or protect T.T. from any future harassment.
“The racism and harassment became so severe that T.T. found himself sick with the idea of going to school and was absent for at least (20) days. In response, instead of delving deeper into the reasons behind his absences, the defendants sent him truancy letters threatening police action and court costs and fines if he continued to miss school. All the while allowing a racially hostile environment to persist and failing to discipline the student perpetrators.”
Thompson’s son is African-American and half Caucasian.
“At the very onset of school, other students began calling T.T. racially motivated names and slurs, including ‘Blackie,’ ‘Blackie Chan,’ and ‘Nigger,’ ‘Mulatto,’ and ‘Mexican.’ Many of these racial slurs were made to T.T. during his classes, including, but not limited to, Math, Art and Geography,” his mother says.
She says the principal suspended one boy, who admitted calling her son a “Nigger,” for two days.
She says she had to remove her son from Raymond High School because no measures were taken to protect him from the continuing harassment.
Thompson seeks $1 million in damages for racially hostile environment, racial discrimination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
She is represented by Karen Hewes of Manchester.
Raymond, a town of just over 3,000 in southeast New Hampshire, is 93.7 percent white, according to city-data.com.
City-data, a comprehensive site with demographics of U.S. cities, does not listany black population in Raymond. It says 32 people, or 1.1 percent of the city’s residents are of mixed race.