White man and woman, parents of Black adopted teenage girl, decided to file a lawsuit against their child’s school and the school district because the young girl has been constantly bullied because of her race while in school and the school officials are accused of not doing enough to protect her. According to the lawsuit, the threats and harassment lasted for extended period of time and at one point, the girl couldn’t handle the students’ behavior and asked her mother if she could become White so she won’t be bullied.
The federal lawsuit indicates that the 14-year-old Black adopted girl, whose identity was not publicly revealed due to her age, has been a constant victim of bullying, threats and harassment due to her skin color for extended period of time. Per the parents, April and Rob Malick, not all students in the school were involved in these incidents, but enough that the harassment was pervasive and persistent.
“She begged me, begged me to turn white,” said her mother. “It was heartbreaking,” April added. The Malicks claim they reported all of these incidents, but the school officials did almost nothing in preventing students to racially bully their adopted daughter. Eventually, the parents had no options left but to remove their daughter from the school because she was suffering a lot after she was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder early this year.
The alleged incidents took place at the Michigan based public school known among the local community as Cros-Lex High School and the parents announced they filed a lawsuit last week against the C. L. School District for violating their daughter’s civil rights by allowing a hostile learning environment and not protecting her from racialized violence and harassment.
“In the beginning, they were like, ‘yeah, let’s get this done; we’re gonna investigate,” said Rob. Yet as each progressive issue popped up, he says the responses became terse. “You have adults standing by and not taking action,” said Deborah Gordon, the Attorney representing the family.
The first incident took place back in 2018, when the girl was sixth grade, and her parents claim she was struck by another student because of her race. The incident was reported to the local police department and to the school district’s superintendent, but not much was done in resolving that and several other incidents that happened in a short period of time.
The lawsuit reveals that the 14-year-old girl, later identified only by her initials C. M., is only one of three Black students in a school district population of 2,053. The lack of diversity has not only left the child without cultural reflections but also scarred by white ignorance and projected ideas of Black inferiority, the family maintains. “During C.M. ‘s sixth grade (2018- 2019) and seventh grade (2019- 2020) school years,” the filing states, the student was “relentlessly bullied and harassed because she was Black, including regularly called the n-word. Students also made fun of her ‘wig’ and threatened to ‘rip her wig off.’”
The parents homeschooled the girl for eighth grade and wanted to send her back to school for ninth grade thinking that the school will take action against racism, harassment and discrimination during that period. However, nothing was done when she returned to school the next school year. In September and October last year, the teen was called the n-word and “made fun of because she was Black,” told to “go back to the plantation and pick cotton,” and told her “these n*****s are gonna get it.” The parents filed several reports in the upcoming months, but nothing delivered the wanted results and they had to pull the girl from the school building and she switched to virtual learning.
The Malicks, on behalf of C.M., are asking for compensatory, economic, and non-economic damages, exemplary damages, punitive damages, liquidated damages, and an award of interest, costs, and reasonable attorney fees.
Late May, the school district released a statement claiming there is an anti-discrimination policy, and it is enforced with fidelity. In addition, they confirmed they will be fully cooperative during the judicial process.