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Woman suing county school system, says her son was ‘brutally attacked’ because of his race

The mother of a Daniel Boone High School student is suing the Washington County school system after alleging her son was brutally assaulted by a fellow student because of his race.
According to a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, the 15-year-old has endured years of racially based harassment, first as a student at Sulphur Springs School and then at Boone.
The child’s mother is Caucasian while his father is African American.
The lawsuit claims the boy has been “taunted by racial slurs by some of his male student peers within the Washington County school system as early as elementary school.”
The child’s mother says she, at the time, complained to Sulphur Springs Principal Deborah Mason on multiple occasions, but no corrective action was taken.
According to the filing, the harassment only grew worse as the boy entered the eighth grade and then moved to Boone to start his freshman year of high school.
The boy’s mother said she again complained to school officials, this time Boone’s Assistant Principal Jeremy Jenkins, who she claims did nothing to address the harassment.
“The incidents of racially motivated student harassment against (the student) at Daniel Boone High School continued unabated until the spring of 2010,” the filing states. “On May 27, 2010, the harassment reached its zenith when (another student) brutally assaulted (the boy) while the two were riding a school bus…”
A brief video clip from a camera on board the vehicle shows two boys standing face to face on the bus. The victim’s back is to the camera as the alleged assailant lands multiple punches to the boy’s face. The victim does not defend himself or retaliate in the clip. The fight ends when two other boys on the bus stand up and pull the pair apart.
According to the lawsuit, which also lists the alleged attacker as a defendant, the teen suffered an internal skull fracture that required surgery and the insertion of metal plates into his head.
In addition to suing the boy and his family for the violent attack, the plaintiff is suing the Washington County Board of Education for failing to adequately respond to complaints regarding the racially hostile environment, failing to provide a safe educational environment and depriving the victim of equal access to educational opportunities and benefits provided by the school.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court on May 26 of this year. In June, counsel for the school system requested more time to answer to the complaint, citing the summer break as inhibiting the investigation process.
Likewise, on July 5, counsel for the alleged assailant requested until Aug. 1 to respond to the complaint.
On July 6, United States Magistrate Judge Dennis Inman granted the motion to extend the response period.
While Director of Schools Ron Dykes said he could not comment specifically on the ongoing litigation, he did say the school system has specific procedures in place to address potential instances of racism.
“We not only follow federal laws regarding discrimination and civil rights — and we follow those to a T — we also address every instance that is observed or brought to our attention,” Dykes said in a phone interview on Friday. “We also have our anti-bullying program — EPIC — that discourages overt acts that may be considered racist or intimidating or threatening, be they verbal or physical.”