“The plaintiffs, who are African American, challenge Coosa High’s willful indifference to acts of racial animosity toward black students perpetrated by white students and teachers; as well as the school’s point of view discrimination in its dress code and inconsistent administration of disciplinary policies toward the detriment of black students,” the lawsuit states.
“This case reminds us that we are still fighting in the South about who and what we are as a region,” plaintiff attorney Artur Davis said in a statement to CNN. “Cases like this are needed to show how far we still have to go in the South to be one community.”
A 2018-2019 report of Georgia schools said the school district was 78% white and 7% black. About 4% of students identified as multiracial.
CNN has reached out to the school district and board members named in the lawsuit for comment. In a statement to the Rome-News Tribune, Superintendent Glenn White said, “Floyd County Schools are eager to present the facts in court.”
In response to CNN’s request for comment, school board members referred CNN to their attorney. CNN has not heard from the school district or the attorney.
What the lawsuit says
The lawsuit alleges that school administrators engaged in a “blatant pattern of willfully ignoring plaintiff’s complaints of repeated incidents of racial bullying and bigotry” at the school. It describes several instances, including a re-enactment of the death of George Floyd that took place in the school hallway, a student wearing a Confederate flag sash and addressing black students as “slaves” and a student white telling black students “we used to whip you with this” while holding a whip.
The lawsuit further alleges that white students at the school openly use the N-word and that there have been racist remarks posted on social media and used by white teachers.
The school’s dress code permits the wearing of any Confederate flag attire but prohibits the wearing of any “Black Lives Matter” attire or related themed imagery, according to the lawsuit.
In October 2021, during Spirit Week, white students were allowed to carry a Confederate flag on the school campus, according to the suit. In response, a group of students staged a protest against the school’s tolerance of the symbol, which was to take place between lessons and during out-of-school breaks, the lawsuit says.
The school “acted forcefully to end the protest,” the lawsuit alleges, saying an announcement was made that the protest was banned and that students caught with leaflets would be disciplined.
The plaintiffs also allege that reports they made of racial incidents at school went unheeded by teachers and administrators.
The plaintiffs seek an undisclosed amount of damages along with an amendment to the school’s dress code to prohibit discrimination based on political or ideological views and the deletion of the plaintiffs’ disciplinary records to remove all sanctions or disciplinary action for the planning of the October event. .
“This is a lawsuit where you tell them to stop discriminating against these students. Let them go to school and get an education. Racism has no place in our country and certainly has no place. has no place in our school systems,” attorney Harry Daniels told CNN.
In a separate statement, plaintiff’s attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said the students and families filing the lawsuit “deserve the protection of the Court and I am confident that our lawsuit will prevail.”
“I hope people in all corners of the United States will look to the incredible example that the young plaintiffs in this case are setting, and escalate and confront the civil rights abuses,” Liss-Riordan said.