‘They blatantly lied:’ NAACP, Lubbock, Slaton families dispute resolutions condemning racism
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock and Slaton families disputed the resolutions passed by the Lubbock Cooper and Slaton school districts condemning racism, alongside civil rights activists from across the state and nation on Thursday.
At a meeting at the Patterson Library, and at another a few hours later hosted by the NAACP at the Mae Simmons Community Center, parents and activists called the districts’ responses “too little, too late.”
They added that along with coming months after the initial claims of racism within the districts, these resolutions were passed to save face - one calling them rhetorical flourishes on cheap paper.
“You did these resolutions because you knew we were coming. That was too little, too late. That should’ve been done months and Sundays ago when this issue was brought to your attention,” Candice Matthews, Statewide Vice Chair for the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, said.
While parents said they are glad the districts are acknowledging there is a problem, there is still much to be done.
“We don’t believe anything that they’re saying because they’re not acting on what they’re promising,” parent Shardae McGaha said.
The civil rights activists at the meetings, some from across Texas and one from across the nation, called for litigation, legislation and agitation.
“That’s our intent, to make the legislation better, to make it not permissive to have statewide or districtwide anti-bullying policies, but to make it mandatory,” Judge Morris Overstreet, former judge for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, said. “There’s nothing wrong with requiring every school district in Texas to adopt anti-bullying procedures and policies district-wide.”
Lubbock Cooper mother Tracy Kemp says the district blatantly lied in its resolution and says she and other parents have yet to hear from administrators.
“They said there was no complaints of discrimination this school year, and when I filed that with [Superintendent] Keith Bryant’s office to the side, he said that no complaints came before the board. However, complaints have come against schools within that district, so that’s the same thing,” Kemp said.
Civil Rights Attorney David Henderson worked on the federal complaint filed to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on behalf of students and families in the districts. He says if you take federal money, you have to follow federal guidelines, including the prohibition of discrimination based on race. He says they have filed the complaint, obtained consent forms from families, and are waiting on federal investigators to begin the case.
“Once they get started, I expect what they’re going to do is take our 30-plus pages of complaints, look through everything that we’ve alleged, and start asking questions. That process will take a long time, because there’s a lot for them to look into,” Henderson said.
He says that investigation should not get in the way of school administrators communicating with students who have been victims of racial bullying or harassment and their families.
“Their hands are not tied at all. Because even if the investigation starts, they still have students in their schools,” Henderson said.
A few at the meetings criticized Slaton for canceling school Thursday and Friday.
“This isn’t a protest, this is a cry for help. This is a cry for change, you know. We aren’t promoting violence. We are asking simply for accountability,” Slaton parent JaQuatta Manahan said.
“I’ve never seen a school district have the gumption to claim an affinity with Dr. King’s national holiday as a false justification to give cover to their cowardice,” Todd Yeary, former executive director of the Rainbow Push Coalition, said.
Several of the families are creating a new group, Parents Against Racism, to be a support for families who’ve dealt with discrimination and link them to resources.
“Or if you just need somebody to vent to, because sometimes it’s extremely frustrating. There’s been lots of nights where I’ve cried and been frustrated and cursed and all of that. And I know how it is so we just want to extend that out to the community,” Kemp said.
After the meetings Thursday afternoon, several of the same parents and activists spoke at the Slaton board meeting - including a student who shared her own experience getting bullied. Some parents called for Superintendent Jim Andrus to resign, accusing him of lying about the timeline of reported cases of harassment. They asked the board to include parents in any further discussions about race-based bullying.
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