A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas claiming a white student in the seventh grade physically and sexually harassed a Black student, who is also in the seventh grade, because of his race. The boys attend Lansing Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas.
Kansas City Star reports, “The perpetrator groped the victim’s buttocks while they were in study hall. The victim told him to stop and told the teacher, who initially didn’t do anything. Only after continued harassment and continued requests to the teacher did she intervene, but only to tell the victim to move his seat.” The outlet continued, “Later that day, both boys were on the bus after school when the perpetrator grabbed the other boy’s penis, struck him on the head several times and kicked him in the face, causing a bloody nose. That’s when the victim defended himself and punched the other boy.” Guess who was punished? The Black student.
School officials punished the Black student by not allowing him to ride the bus the next day, but the white student was not punished. When the Black student’s parents met with the school officials “described what happened as hugging followed by a mutual fight. The school leaders also noted that their son had hit the other boy ‘hard.'” In addition, they accused the son of having a history of bad behavior. However, when they viewed the video from the bus with the Black student’s parents, they were forced to admit the perpetrator was the aggressor. Nonetheless, the lawsuit says the school still managed to blame the Black student because by insinuating he didn’t sit in the “appropriate” seat on the bus.
The suit alleges, “Plaintiff was treated less favorably in the way in which he was disciplined, questioned and blamed despite the student perpetrator being the aggressor, because of his race and furthermore plaintiff was treated less favorably as compared to the white student perpetrator.”
District community relations coordinator Nineveh Carvan said in a statement, “Lansing School District is unable to comment on pending litigation or allegations.” The is the second lawsuit filed this year against the school. A female student claimed she was sexually harassed by her teacher.
For the case of the Black student, unfortunately, it is no surprise he was unfairly disciplined. According to a Government Accountability Office study, starting at pre-K, Black boys are disproportionately disciplined. Here are some numbers from the study:
- Black students made up 15.5% of the population in the schools studied, but represented 39% of students being suspended.
- In schools with poverty levels between 0 and 25%, black students are still overrepresented in suspensions out of school by 12.2%.
- Boys were overrepresented by 27% among students who receive corporal punishment as discipline.
We hope the Black student at Lansing Middle School but we also hope there is a change in how Black children are disciplined.