The parents of a black 12-year-old girl are suing her Texas school after it allegedly failed to investigate a group of white students who put a rope around their daughter’s neck and dragged her to the ground.
The incident, which the parents say was intentional bullying, left “severe and painful” rope cuts in her neck, causing her mother to believe her neck had been ripped open and stitched back together again when she first saw it.
The mostly white, Live Oak Classical school in Waco has called the incident “an unfortunate accident”.
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Her parents are suing for $3 million worth of damages including medical bills, physical pain, disfigurement and suffering by daughter – identified by her initials “KP” – and alleges the school failed to properly investigate the incident.
During the school’s overnight camping trip at the end of April, a group of students were playing with a rope swing tied to a tree, according to the Waco Tribune.
Three boys came up behind the girl, according to the lawsuit, wrapped the rope around her neck and “violently jerked” her to the ground.
According to the lawsuit, nobody helped her off the ground and the teacher allegedly did not look into whether the incident was deliberate and did not alert her parents.
“KP looked up, and saw the three boys an arms length from where she was laying. None of the three boys, nor anyone else, helped her off the ground or helped remove the rope from her neck as they would have done if it had been an accident,” the lawsuit read.
The school said in a statement that the accusations by the parent’s lawyers surrounding the incident are “false”.
A member of the board of directors, Jeremy Counseller, emailed a statement to The Dallas News.
“The student received first aid treatment immediately after the accident by a parent chaperone who is also a physician, and she was able to enjoy the remainder of the field trip, which lasted through the next day. Live Oak takes the safety of its students seriously and is saddened that one of its family suffered an unfortunate accident and injury.”
The school has denied a history of bullying of KP, including people not wanting to talk to her and one of the boys in the group behind the rope swing incident pushing and kicking her when the teacher was not looking.
School principal Allison Buras wrote an email to her mother, Sandy Rougely: “It sounds like he may have pushed on the back of her leg to make her leg buckle, which is something the kids sometimes do. Rarely is that done out of meanness but more out of a desire for sport.”
KP’s parents had not removed their daughter from the school earlier as they had trusted the school to prevent future bullying and that the children were not capable of causing such severe harm, according to a statement from their family’s lawyer, Levi McCathern.