Tennessee middle schooler subjected to ‘slave auction’, noose and Klan images, lawsuit says

A Tennessee family is suing a local school board after a middle schooler was allegedly barraged with racial epithets, showed images of Ku Klux Klan members holding torches and nooses — and was even taunted during of a “slave auction” organized by other students.

Erika Qualls has filed a lawsuit on behalf of her son and alleges that despite repeated attempts to address her bullying at Church Hill Middle School, located about 85 miles northeast of Knoxville, she was fired. According to a report by The Charlotte Observer.

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The court case was filed on Tuesday, May 24, against Hawkins County Schools, which oversees Church Hill Middle School, where the alleged incidents took place.

In a statement, its principal of schools, Matt Hixson, said The Observer“When such allegations are brought to our attention regarding student conduct, we take steps to investigate the same and to punish those responsible. Hawkins County Schools and the many educators who work within our system school strive to create an environment where all students, regardless of race, feel safe and welcome. And we will defend ourselves in court against any claims to the contrary.”

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However, the college boy’s mother, through her attorney Larry Crain, said McClatchy News her boy suffers from depression and anxiety from dating, including being called a “monkey” and being slapped. In one incident, five white college students confronted him in a bathroom, where they recorded video of him being chased with a stuffed monkey. The clip was allegedly shared on Snapchat with the caption “Monkey hunts monkey,” according to the lawsuit.

According The Observerabout 6.1% of Church Hill Middle School’s student body is made up of minority students and about 1.3% are black, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Qualls, who reportedly documented about 15 racist incidents her child experienced at Church Hill Middle School during the 2021-2022 school year, detailed several incidents where she reported the behavior to Hawkins County School District staff, only to be told that they were under investigation. .

She is now asking that the campus be prohibited from further violating her son’s civil rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination based on race, and is asking for $2.5 million in compensatory damages.

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Martha K. Merrill