Allegations of Racism at Ohio School Prompt Civil Rights Complaint


A mother of two biracial children has filed a federal complaint against leaders at the Lebanon School District in Ohio, arguing that they have ignored her complaints of racial harassment and bullying.

A formal complaint was filed by Heather Allen and her attorney, Robert Newman, with the United States Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. According to the complaint, over a half dozen incidents of racial slurs, threats and bullying took place against Allen's children. According to Allen, she complained to the administrators at the Lebanon Junior and Senior High Schools at least nine times in the 2014-15 school year. The district has yet to do anything about any of the occurrences.

"Her son was called a slave by a fellow student and it was reported to the administration," said Newman. "There was a video posted on social media where the N-word was chanted and the video got 5,000 hits on the posting."

While the video has been taken down, it is still being considered as evidence. Multiple pages of Instagram posts have also been documented, many of which either use the N-word or essentially tell African-American students to leave the district. The caption read "that black (racial slur) in our schools shouldn't even be here neither should all of the black in our school."

"Our position is that a school has a responsibility to intervene and deal with issues of racism where it impacts on racial minorities in the school systems," said Newman.

Allen complained to the school about these incidents and several others. Allen said her son was the victim of racial slurs in the school cafeteria, a racial slur was carved into the wall of the bathroom at the high school, a message was sent to her son concerning the carving along with a photo of a knife saying it would be brought to school. On another occasion a teacher "joined in the conversation and stated that a "Whites Only" sign was hung over a water fountain at the high school in the recent past." Her daughter was also told to take her "black a– back to Middletown where she came from." While each incident was reported, Newman said the district has done nothing.

Parents of other children at the school seemed surprised by the complaints.

"They run with everybody, they all have their own social lives, different social lives and there was a lot of different interaction with everybody at the school and through my boys and my daughter, I've never heard of anything," parent Bret Vitek said.

School officials have yet to comment on the issue.

The civil rights office said it could take months before a decision is made as to whether or not an investigation will take place.

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