LUBBOCK, Texas — On Monday, students and parents from Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Slaton ISD as well as Lubbock NAACP members spoke in front of the school board during the public comment portion of the meeting to address repeated concerns of racial harassment at these schools. 

“On April 21, 2022, we came out with parents, students, and a portion of your community to address some horrible issues of racism, hate crimes, assault and bullying,” said Phyllis Gant, a Lubbock National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) member.

Gant said in the five board meetings Lubbock-Cooper ISD held since that day in April, never once were their items put on the agenda or discussed. 

Monday night, the Lubbock NAACP and the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) came together with affected families from Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Slaton ISD to address the school board once again.

“It was swept under the rug,” said Milton Lee, the Lubbock NAACP president. “This is why we’re here right now. I would love to see the unity and the equity of the personnel. I don’t see that.”

Tracey Kemp said her son was the victim of bullying while he was a student at Laura Bush Middle School.

“I have to drive 45 minutes from work to come to pick up my child because he’s been racially bullied and harassed at school to the point that I had to go seek legal help from the police department,” Kemp said. “If you think that I’m going to stop there, I’m going to tell you that I’m not.”

These families said they still haven’t heard enough from district administrators. On Monday, with the help of civil rights organizations, they filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Education under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“It’s not enough to just have boilerplate statements and assemblies where students don’t pay attention,” said Paige Duggins-Clay, a civil rights lawyer with the IDRA. “A change has to happen so that there’s a real culture change, there’s real learning so that the students can understand that these words matter, that they’re harmful, that they create a hostile learning environment, and that they’re not acceptable.”

Attorneys from Ellwanger Law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project are serving as legal counsel to the complainants.

The official complaints for both Lubbock-Cooper ISD and Slaton ISD are over 20 pages long, describing what these black students have been going through on campus.

Students at Laura Bush Middle School claim they had to deal with being bullied almost daily with things like racial slurs and the sound of a whip playing when they walk through the halls.

Over at Slaton High School, Duggins-Clay said at least three of the school’s 22 total black students were sent to the district’s Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) where students must wear orange uniforms. There, those students said they were called racial slurs and claimed that fellow classmates would make monkey sounds at them.

Duggins-Clay said all both sets of families are asking for is accountability and a positive change.

“They want school leaders to come in good faith to negotiate in order to make their school environment safe for black kids,” Duggins-Clay said. “That’s not asking too much at all. We’re hopeful that the U.S. Department of Education will help facilitate that resolution.”